Book Vs Movie: “To Sir, With Love”
The 1959 E.R. Braithewaite Novel Vs the 1967 Sidney Poitier Movie
To Sir, With Love was a smash hit movie in 1967 making over $40 million at the box office and making singer Lulu an international sensation who not only stars in the film but sings the theme song. The Margos take a deep dive into the original work and how it came to be the voice of a generation in London during the “mod” movement.
The 1959 novel is based on the true-life story of E. R. Braithwaite, a Guyanese-born English/American writer who served in the Royal Air Force during World War II and then gained his education at the City College of New York and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. Despite his exceptional skills and education–as a black man, he had a very difficult time finding a job in the work of his choosing. The racism of the time forced him to find work as a teacher in the East End of London.
Later he became a social worker and human rights advocate fighting racism and oppression. It is unclear how he felt about the 1967 adaptation which was written and directed by James Clavell who decided to jettison a subplot about interracial romance and focus more on the students.
The biggest reason for its film’s success was the lead actor Sidney Poitier who was one of the most bankable stars of the 1960s and never really got his due for his box office appeal. He would go on the make millions from this film when the studio gave up on creating a more rough tale that included a sexual assault and/or a “big fight.”
Poitier also appeared in the 1996 Sequel To Sir, With Love II.
So between the novel and the movie–which did we prefer? Have a listen and find out!
In this ep the Margos discuss:
- The biography of E.R. Braithwaite and his scholastic career
- The author’s experience in South Africa in the 1970s
- The changes between the novel set in 1947 and the movie set in 1967
- The cast: Sidney Poitier (Mr. Mark Thackery,) Judy Greeson (Pamela Dare,) Christian Roberts (Bert Denham,) Suzy Kendall (Miss Gillian Blanchard,) Lulu (Babs Pegg,) Geoffrey Bayldon (Mr. Theo Weston,) Patricia Routledge (Clinty Clintridge,) Edward Burnham (Mr. Florian,) and The Mindbenders (as themselves.)
- Behave like adults
- To Sir, With Love trailer
- Fight scene
- How ladies and men should behave
- Last scene with Lulu singing
- It’s Getting Harder All the Time performed by The Mindbenders
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