Artwork By Sarah K
To (lately) celebrate the return of a new school year, I’ve decided to discuss some of my favourite school themed films with you all. I don’t know why but I’ve always had some weird connection to movies that take place in schools or have to do with them. To me, seeing people in a similar situation I am in and feelings the same things I do is always a great thing to see when watching a film. The films I mention in this post have been long time favourites and I really encourage you to watch them if you’ve never had.
- The Trouble With Angels – 1966
The Trouble With Angels is an episodic comedy which follows two young girls named Mary and Rachel through their high school years at their Catholic boarding school, St. Francis. Mary and Rachel meet in their first year of school and quickly become great friends. Mary leads the duo with her fierce rebellion while Rachel accompanies her in her small-time pranks. They smoke in the bathroom, put soap in the nun’s coffee, and set fire alarms all to the dismay of their Mother Superior. As the years go on the girls begin to respect and learn more about their teachers and the responsibilities they have to handle. This movie is full of fun laughs and quietly gains momentum for a wonderful and sentimental ending. This movie also has a terrific all-female cast featuring Rosalind Russell as the girls’ Mother Superior, Gypsy Rose Lee, June Harding and Mary Helling. Not to mention that this movie is directed by Ida Lupino, a pioneer for all women filmmakers.
I couldn’t find a trailer on YouTube so here is a small scene from the movie:
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – 1969
Whether it be on politics or beliefs or perspective we’ve all had teachers who influenced our views and tastes, but perhaps not as strongly as Miss Jean Brodie had on her young, malleable pupils. Maggie Smith stars in this movie as Miss Brodie, a thirty something year old teacher who ignores the curriculum and teachers her student’s lessons of history from her own, romanticized point of view, especially on Mussolini and Franco. She specifically has her sights set on four girls, Sandy, Monica, Jenny and Mary who she names “The Brodie Brunch”. During her time teaching the girls she has a fallout with the schools art teacher Teddy and begins a new one with the music teacher, Gordon. Miss Brodie is also on odds with the schools head mistress who finds Brodie’s open-minded attitude not fitted for the school’s morale. With all of this conflict in her life Brodie continues to teach at the school for years, even as the girls move to higher grades. Miss Brodie then tries to persuade Jenny into beginning an affair with Teddy and to have Sandy spy on them for her. She eventually even persuades Emily to fight for Franco’s army in Spain. While all of this is happening Sandy begins to realize how warped the views of Miss Brodie are and begins to resent her for them, leading to a spectacular ending which humbles both Brodie and the audience. It took me to watch this move twice to realize that Brodie is truly the antagonist of the film. Through her warped views of her society she influences her students to take life the same, airy, romantic way she does. So far as to expect a student to begin an affair with a teacher and another to fight for a dictator. This film is a rollercoaster of emotions and a power battle for the audience’s sympathy. Should you agree with Sandy or with Brodie. The choice is yours.
- The Blackboard Jungle – 1955
My favourite of the new-teacher-tries-to-teach-in-an-inner-city-school type of movie, and the original. Blackboard Jungle is all about a man named Dadier who takes a teaching job in an inner city school in New York City. His students are rowdy but his colleagues are negligent and unwilling to try to change their attitude. When he is given a change to teach at a “real school” he is conflicted. Should he stay and try to gain the respect of his students or should he run away. The Blackboard Jungle although a bit outdated still moves its audience. It shows that with passion and tact, one can truly be a great teacher. This film is very reflective of the rock’n’roll era of America, where greaser gangs ruled the streets, so although it is a spot-on social commentary there are still some ironic laughs in between scenes. This film stars Glenn Ford as Dadier and the great Sidney Poitier as Greg.