7.4/10
1,745
37 user 15 critic

Up the Down Staircase (1967)

Approved | | Drama | 28 June 1967 (USA)
The experiences of a young female English teacher in an inner-city New York high school.

Director:

Robert Mulligan

Writers:

Bel Kaufman (novel), Tad Mosel (screenplay)
Reviews
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sandy Dennis ... Sylvia Barrett
Patrick Bedford Patrick Bedford ... Paul Barringer
Eileen Heckart ... Henrietta Pastorfield
Ruth White ... Beatrice Schacter
Jean Stapleton ... Sadie Finch
Sorrell Booke ... Dr. Bester
Roy Poole ... Mr. McHabe
Florence Stanley ... Ella Friedenberg
Vinnette Carroll Vinnette Carroll ... The Mother
Janice Mars Janice Mars ... Miss Gordon
Loretta Leversee Loretta Leversee ... Social Studies Teacher
John Callahan John Callahan
Denis Fay Denis Fay
Otto Lomax Otto Lomax
Martha Greenhouse Martha Greenhouse ... Alberta Kagan
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Storyline

Sylvia Barrett is a rookie teacher at New York's inner-city Calvin Coolidge High: her lit classes are overcrowded, a window is broken, there's no chalk, books arrive late. The administration is concerned mainly with forms and rules (there's an up and a down staircase); bells ring at the wrong time. Nevertheless, she tries. How she handles the chaos and her despair in her first semester makes up the film: a promising student drops out, another sleeps through class, a girl with a crush on a male teacher gets suicidal, and a bright but troublesome student misunderstands Sylvia's reaching out. A discussion of Dickens, parents' night, and a mock trial highlight the term. Can she make it? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The year's #1 best seller picks you up and never lets you down. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 June 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Apigorevmena skalopatia See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Park Place Production See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The U.S. State Department submitted this film to the 1967 Moscow Film Festival, in order to contradict Soviet propaganda, which implied that all American schools were racially segregated. See more »

Goofs

During the opening montage establishing the first day of school in September in a New York high school, several shots were obviously filmed in dead of winter with extras in heavy coats, gray skies, etc. contrasting wildly with scenes of sunny skies and lightweight costumes of main characters. See more »

Quotes

[Mr. McHabe notices Miss Barrett walking towards class with a homemade suggestion box]
J.J. McHabe: Oh. Suggestions, Miss Barrett, ahh? I must say you've got guts.
Sylvia Barrett: It's just an idea, Mr. McHabe. It seems to me that if the students have a chance to speak freely without fear of punishment...
J.J. McHabe: Listen, you start running this school with ideas, you'll have riots in your rooms. Fear - That's all they understand.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Reflections of Evil (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A truly fantastic film
10 August 2004 | by ailsagirlSee all my reviews

What can I say? I read the book and enjoyed it. I saw the film and absolutely fell in love with it. I loved Sandy Dennis and her unique method of acting-- yes, I know she sometimes stammered, but don't we all in "real life?" I give high marks for Mulligan's directing because the movie had so many wonderful facets: it could be funny, it could be disturbing, and it could be so moving. The penultimate scene with Jose in the auditorium was so touching, so meaningful, and yet so simple. But exceedingly powerful. I found myself relating to Dennis in every way. Her bewilderment at The System, her deep desire to reach her students, her frustration, her idealism, her disappointment. And, when she finally experiences a victory, her sincere gratification. One reviewer called the film "slick." I don't at all agree. It was subtle, meaningful, and true. And the other actors did such a superb job of acting that it all seemed unscripted. There was no sex, nudity, swearing-- none of the things that today's movies are so laden with. I have a theory that these gimmicks are used for shock value, as filler, or to cover up the inadequacies of the film makers. You can tell that those who made this film were classically educated because the movie's foundation was strong and true. There wasn't a wasted line nor a meaningless exchange. Just full, rich film making at its finest!! Make no mistake: a film needn't be an action thriller or sexy to be compelling. I'm disappointed by today's movies because they lack something: heart, soul, meaning-- I'm not sure-- but I liken them to "cinematic junk food." So if you like pure cinema, see this film. (I don't think there's any comparison to "To Sir With Love," by the way. The latter was entertaining, but that was about it.)


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