Friday, September 16, 2011

Back-to-School Movies

With the autumnal equinox just a week away and most schools back in session, it's time to face it:  Summer's over.  Rather than mourn its passing, pop some corn, pour some apple cider, and put a good school movie in your DVD player.  Following is a list of sixteen of the best:
  1. Blackboard Jungle(1955).  An idealistic English teacher (Glenn Ford) in a high school in the ghetto is challenged by juvenile delinquents.  Look for a young Sidney Poitier.
  2. Bye Bye Birdie(1963).  A teenager from Sweet Apple, Ohio (Ann-Margret in her first role) wins a national contest to give army draftee/rock star Conrad Birdie a farewell kiss on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Also stars Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, and Paul Lynde.
  3. The Trouble with Angels (1966).  Hayley Mills and June Harding play two trouble-making girls at a convent school who seriously test the patience of the Mother Superior (Rosalind Russell).  This touching movie with its surprise ending is a lot of fun.
  4. To Sir, With Love(1967).  Sidney Poitier is a teacher in an inner-city London school who teaches his rebellious students how to survive after high school.  Great song by Lulu.
  5. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie(1969).  Based on the Muriel Sparks novel, the film stars Maggie Smith as an eccentric school teacher at a girls boarding school in 1930s London.
  6. American Graffiti(1973).  Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, and Candy Clark star as teenagers in 1962 enjoying their last summer night before college.
  7. The Paper Chase(1973).  Timothy Bottoms is a Harvard law student trying to survive his first year without antagonizing his law professor (John Houseman), a task complicated by the fact that he's fallen in love with the professor's daughter (Lindsay Wagner).
  8. The Breakfast Club (1985).  John Hughes' classic movie about a group of teenagers spending a day of detention together.
  9. Dead Poets Society(1989).  Corny, yes, but this enjoyable flick features Robin Williams as an English teacher at a New England boys boarding school in the 1950s who inspires his pupils to live life to the fullest.
  10. Good Will Hunting(1997).  Robin Williams is back playing a therapist, who, while helping a troubled, young math genius (Matt Damon) heal, comes to terms with his own painful past.
  11. October Sky (1999).  Based on the book, Rocket Boys, Jake Gyllenhaal is the young Homer Hicks, a boy fascinated by rockets in Coalwood, West Virginia in the late fifties.
  12. Never Been Kissed(1999).  Drew Barrymore, a reporter researching a story on contemporary teens, returns undercover to her old high school.
  13. Legally Blonde(2001).  To get her boyfriend back a jilted sorority girl (Reese Witherspoon) goes to Harvard Law School.
  14. School of Rock (2003).  A ne'er-do-well substitute teacher (Jack Black) teaches some musically talented elementary students the gospel of rock and roll.
  15. Mean Girls (2004).  In order to get into the Plastic clique, a new student (Lindsay Lohan) must become as shallow and mean-spirited as the popular girls.
  16. Sky High(2005).  Will Stronghold, son of the two most powerful superheroes, attends an elite school for superhero offspring; unfortunately, he has no superpowers of his own.

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