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A sentimental picture starring Poitier as an engineer from British Guiana who, because he is black, cannot find work in his field. He accepts a teaching position in a slummy high school in London's East End. He quickly learns that he signed on for more than he bargained for--the students
are poorly educated, viciously rebellious, and downright crude to authority figures. Rather than end up like the previous string of instructors--who gave up on the students--Poitier tries an unorthodox method. Instead of relying on textbooks, Poitier teaches from experience. His belief is that the
students must be treated like adults in order for them to behave as such. Gradually Poitier gains the students' trust and respect. What makes TO SIR, WITH LOVE such an enjoyable film is the mythic nature of Poitier's character. He manages to come across as a real person, while simultaneously
embodying everything there is to know about morality, respect, and integrity. The film's success baffled Columbia executives who just didn't know how to market it. In an attempt to learn why people liked the film so much, they even handed out questionnaires--a method that proved fruitless. One
factor in the picture's popularity and its sustaining charm is the tuneful title song, which was a top hit for Lulu and is heard throughout the film. TO SIR, WITH LOVE went on to become the eighth largest grosser of the year, raking in $7.2 million.