Blackboard Jungle

Blackboard Jungle

4.5 2
Director: Richard Brooks

Cast: Glenn Ford, Sidney Poitier, Anne Francis

     
 
Richard Brooks' Blackboard Jungle (1955) never had a distinguished history on laserdisc (it wasn't even letterboxed, if this reviewer recalls correctly), but it's been given first-class treatment on DVD from Warner Home Video. In addition to a sparkling letterboxed (1.85:1) transfer, the producers have included a delightful and informative commentary track

Overview

Richard Brooks' Blackboard Jungle (1955) never had a distinguished history on laserdisc (it wasn't even letterboxed, if this reviewer recalls correctly), but it's been given first-class treatment on DVD from Warner Home Video. In addition to a sparkling letterboxed (1.85:1) transfer, the producers have included a delightful and informative commentary track featuring Jamie Farr (who made his screen debut in this movie), Paul Mazursky (also in the movie), star Glenn Ford's son Peter Ford, and assistant director Joel Freeman, who engage in a dazzling, funny, touching, and perceptive talk across the length of the movie. Each participant makes an equal contribution, and their talk tells us a lot about a period in the business that isn't much discussed, in which filmmakers like Brooks (directing his first movie here) were looking to New York actors and reshaping the image of established leading men like Glenn Ford (who had his hair cut short here and never grew it back) in order to give viewers something new. (Even this reviewer wasn't aware of the full measure of controversy surrounding the film, which -- among other concessions -- had to have a scene added depicting a well-behaved suburban school, shot on the last day of production.) That bonus feature is worth the price of the disc by itself, and one only wishes that this could have been done ten years ago or thereabouts, so that Glenn Ford himself -- who turned 88 in May of 2005 -- could have participated. The 28 chapters are more than adequate to break down this plot, and the audio has been mastered good and loud. Along with the original trailer and the commentary track, the bonus features include the MGM "Droopy" cartoon Blackboard Jumble (which is in color and Cinemascope). There's also an optional French audio track and English, Spanish, and French subtitles. The disc opens on a simple and practical dual-layer menu, with the special features easily accessible.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Blackboard Jungle has been tainted somewhat by the countless imitators that followed it. It's difficult to see this movie in context as the shocking "exposé" that it felt like in 1955. Compared to the latest "remakes," like Stand and Deliver and Dangerous Minds, the shocking urban delinquents in Jungle seem more Happy Days than street gang. But in its time, Blackboard Jungle, along with Rebel Without a Cause (also 1955) and The Wild One (1954), showed the mainstream public a scary and unfamiliar fringe of the youth movement. Even without the historical context, this is still a fine drama with excellent performances. Vic Morrow (as Artie West -- a tough guy named Artie?) and the impressive Sidney Poitier are both remembered for their quality performances as two of the students, but it is Glenn Ford who holds the movie together. Ford, who was at about the height of his popularity when this picture came out, draws on his past roles in Westerns and noir thrillers to remain resolute while letting just enough of the menace get to him to be human. Writer/director Richard Brooks made a number of excellent films between the mid-'50s and the mid-'70s, but surprisingly he was never awarded an Academy Award for his directing. He did win an Oscar for his scripting of Elmer Gantry.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/10/2005
UPC:
0012569690325
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:40:00
Sales rank:
17,532

Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by co-stars Paul Mazursky and Jamie Farr, Glenn Ford's son Peter Ford, and assistant director Joel Freeman; Droopy cartoon "Blackboard Jumble"; Theatrical trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Foreword and Credits [1:54]
2. Job Interview [4:12]
3. If You Can Handle Them [3:12]
4. Nothing's Going to Happen [2:25]
5. First Day [3:14]
6. Okay, Chief [3:10]
7. Mr. Daddy-O [5:56]
8. Miss Hammond Attacked [:27]
9. Wrong Direction [3:50]
10. To Teaching [4:10]
11. Street Fight [3:38]
12. Another Crack [3:27]
13. It Will Happen Again [2:59]
14. Stinking Talk [1:37]
15. The the Principal's Office [5:46]
16. Losing His Head [4:08]
17. West's Classroom [1:45]
18. Broken Records [2:58]
19. Watch Your Husband [4:05]
20. Musical Talent [5:45]
21. Jack Analysis [2:26]
22. Interested [5:07]
23. Don't Quit [3:55]
24. Hospital Emergency [1:50]
25. Happy New Year [3:34]
26. Knifepoint [4:47]
27. Keeping Their Pact [6:54]
28. Cast List [2:26]

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Blackboard Jungle 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Jim-mail-man More than 1 year ago
Some of us are Stan kenton fans and we wait for the tavern scene when "Invention for guitar and trumpet" plays in the background ! Great old B&W movie with some new faces just getting started . Years later Sidney Poitier wound up playing the teacher in The British film "To sir with love " !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago