Sidney Poitier stars as Mark Thackeray who takes a job as a new teacher while he is looking for a job in engineering. He’s surprised at the chaos in the classroom. As he strives to do his best for the kids, he throws out the standard methods of teaching and brings order and courtesy to the class.
One of the students is played by Lulu, who also sang the theme song. The song was popular on the radio and brought a lot of attention to the film, and didn’t hurt her career either. Lulu performed the theme song to James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun and appeared on American Idol as a guest performer in 2007. She and Judy Geeson, both having played Thackeray’s students in 1967, reprised their roles for the sequel in 1996, To Sir, with Love II.
Sidney Poitier had already won his Best Actor Oscar (in 1964 for his role in Lilies of the Field) when this film came out in 1967. His earlier successes drew people to theaters later that same year when two more of his popular films, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, were released.