The Curator of Schlock #102 by Jeff Shuster

Blackboard Jungle

Do not bring your jazz records into the classroom!

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Hey, everybody! It’s Back to School Month here at the Museum of Schlock! And you know what that means? Juvenile delinquency. Let’s not mince words here. We’ll begin with 1955s Blackboard Jungle from director Richard Brooks. We’re already off to a bad start when we hear “Rock Around the Clock” blasting over the credits.  The downfall of Western Civilization began with that song. How about instead of rocking around the clock tonight, you tell the adolescents to brush up on their civics tonight! Bill Haley and His Comets! Appropriate name for a band if those comets are meant to destroy America!

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The movie starts out Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) being interviewed for a teaching position. He wows the principal with his recitations of the Henry V, getting him the job on the spot. However, when he asks about the discipline problem at North Manual High School, the principal makes it clear that “There is no discipline problem in this school, Mr. Dadier. Not as long as I’m principal.” Okay. That’s a clear sign to the hell out of dodge, but our Mr. Dadier is a slow learner. He befriends another teacher whose name escapes me, but he wears glasses so we’ll call him Mr. Poindexter. He’s a fan a swing and brags about his rare record collection. Mr. Dadier takes his wife out for champagne and ravioli not knowing the horrors that await him Monday morning

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These boys are talking in the hallway, their smoking in the hallways, and frankly they’re giving off a bad attitude. One of them, Gregory Miller (Sidney Poitier) seems smarter than the rest, but he keeps calling Mr. Dadier chief even after Mr. Dadier tells him to “cut out the chief routine.” Then one of them throws a slab of concrete at the blackboard as soon as Mr. Dadier has his back turned!  Or maybe it was a baseball. Then they all start calling him Daddio! I-I can’t believe it

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The rest of the day goes smoother, except when one the boys manhandles one of the few female teachers in the school! Mr. Dadier runs the rescue resulting in the assailant throwing himself through one of the glass windows. You know what? I hate to say it, but these are dead-end kids! Mr. Poindexter asks, “What happened?” An older cynical teacher replies, “The first day of school.” I could go on to spoil the rest of the movie, but I won’t. Let’s just say you don’t want to bring your rare record collections into the classroom!

Teenage Kicks

In Memoriam

Wes Craven

August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015

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I don’t really have words for the passing of one of the Masters of Horror. Rest assured, this October will be Wes Craven month here at The Museum of Schlock.

Five Things I Learned from Blackboard Jungle

  1. Vinyl records break pretty easy.
  2. Glasses break pretty easy too.
  3. Teenage boys will have lively discussions about Jack and the Beanstalk.
  4. Household cooks make more than teachers and they get room and board!
  5. If you try to take a knife from a juvenile delinquent, he may just slice your hand.

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Photo by Leslie Salas

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.

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