The Black Kino Fist: Black life as depicted in film history

To Sir, With Love (1967)

"Sidney Poitier must have enjoyed 1967. He starred in three of the top-grossing films of that year, all of which still stand as prime examples of topical, mid-1960s commercial filmmaking. Although In the Heat of the Night (1967) would go on to win an Oscar® for Best Picture, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) tackled the controversial topic of interracial romance and racism among the American elite, many people still feel that the most effective picture of the three is To Sir, with Love, a bittersweet slice of life set in working-class England. 
By 1967, Poitier had developed a familiar screen persona which was so loaded with dignity, common sense, and quiet humor that many people were beginning to complain. Even The New York Times published an editorial questioning whether Poitier's innate level-headedness was what America really needed to see in an African-American actor. Surely, given the often violent struggle for equality that was playing out in streets across the country, a little more rage was in order. But one has to remember that Poitier was holding the banner for black America as its sole leading man - one misstep, and doors that had opened could slam shut.
The dignity Poitier projected not only served his characters well, but paved the way for scores of African-American performers who would follow in his footsteps. It's interesting to note that, after the film's opening sequences, Poitier's race barely receives a nod of recognition in To Sir, with Love. "Sir" is presented as an intelligent man who's trying to do the right thing for some fellow human beings. The color of his skin is all but inconsequential, a turn of events that would have been unimaginable just a few years earlier. In that sense, this modest film was groundbreaking."
- Paul Tatara for TCM
Status: Available for purchase
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