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Monday, July 27, 2009


A funny thing happened to this new-teacher-in-a-tough-school tale, it improved with age. Perhaps it’s the verisimilitude of mid-60s NYC (for ‘67, the jumps in ambient sound are as unusual as the roughness in Joseph Coffey ‘s spirited lensing). Perhaps it’s because Sandy Dennis, as the newbie teacher, had yet to hit the tipping point in tics & mannerisms that would scuttle so much of her work. Perhaps it’s getting to see an entire cast made up from the NYC/B’way acting pool, especially a fascinating perf from Patrick Bedford (straight from Brian Friel’s PHILADELPHIA, HERE I COME) as a cold-blooded intellectual English teacher. Perhaps it’s the sheer modesty of the story’s conclusion, Dennis simply decides to stick out the year. Whatever. Somehow the partnership of helmer-Robert Mulligan & producer Alan Pakula honor a nearly formless quality far removed from the expected naïf teacher/tough kids/life’s lesson tropes of so many similar pics. Check out TO SIR WITH LOVE, a much bigger hit from the same year, to see how differently films can age.

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