To Sir, with Love appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a satisfying Dolby Vision representation of a difficult source.
Sharpness usually looked good. A little softness crept in at times, and high contrast shots could show haloes related to the original photography, but the majority of the movie offered appealing accuracy.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and with a strong layer of grain, I suspected no issues with noise reduction. Print flaws remained absent.
The film opted for a natural palette that shined here. The colors looked broad and vivid, and HDR brought extra oomph to the tones.
Blacks felt deep and dense, while shadows were smooth and appropriately defined. HDR gave whites and contrast added impact. I felt pleased with this positive presentation.
Did a chatty character piece like To Sir, with Love need a Dolby Atmos remix? No, but the end result worked beter than anticipated.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie’s soundscape felt surprisingly natural. Music boasted nice stereo spread and became bolstered by the rear channels as well.
Effects stayed limited, but they used the side and back speakers in a satisfying manner. In particular, street scenes seemed involving.
Audio quality varied and occasionally showed the age of the source, especially in terms of dialogue. While speech remained intelligible, lines could become brittle and edgy at times.
Effects worked better, as they seemed reasonably accurate, and music showed nice range and clarity. The issues with speech knocked down my grade to a “B-“, but this nonetheless turned into a better than expected mix.
Normally I would compare the 4K to the movie’s Blu-ray version, but that becomes impossible right now – at least in terms of comparisons between the 4K and any Blu-ray available on the market separately. Twilight Time put out Love on BD in 2015.
The Blu-ray included in this set offers a new disc that only appears here – for the time being, at least, as it seems possible it eventually gets a standalone release. If that happens, I’ll review it, but until/unless that time, it makes no sense to compare the 4K to a Blu-ray no one can buy on its own.
As we shift to extras, we find a few on the 4K disc itself. A Tribute to Sidney Poitier goes for 16 minutes, 24 seconds and offers notes from film critic Mike Sargent.
We find a brief history of Poitier’s life and career. Sargent doesn’t deliver much depth but he gives us a decent overview.
We also find a TV pilot for a 1974 version of Love. This episode spans 25 minutes, 41 seconds and features Hari Rhodes as the lead.
The show mixes comedy and drama – complete with laugh track – in an unsatisfying manner. The awkward combination of broad farce and mawkish melodrama turns this into a pretty bad show.
At least the 4K makes the show look surprisingly good, as the footage holds up shockingly well after almost 50 years. Too bad audio seems shrill and rough.
On the included Blu-ray copy, we find two separate audio commentaries, the first of which comes from novelist ER Braithwaite and author/teacher Salome Thomas-El. Both sit separately for this edited track. Braithwaite’s notes appear to come from an interview, whereas Thomas-El provides a running, screen-specific discussion.
Braithwaite looks at his novel, its adaptation and aspects of the experiences that inspired his book. Thomas-El covers his thoughts about education as they connect to the movie.
Braithwaite’s moments become easily the most engaging, as he presents a nice look at his text, his life and the movie. Thomas-El gives us a decent view of the story as it relates to real-world education, though he speaks more about his own career than the film itself.
I wish we heard more from Braithwaite than from Thomas-El, as the novelist’s information proves more useful. Still, the overall track works pretty well.
For the second commentary, we hear from actor Judy Geeson and film historians Julie Kirge and Nick Redman. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew as well as Geeson’s memories of the production.
Without question, Geeson’s recollections become the strongest aspect of this track. She delivers a mix of useful notes about the shoot.
Unfortunately, Kirge and Redman don’t really carry their weight, as they provide only sporadic and minor information about the film. They act more as fans than historians and add little to this track.
Geeson does enough to make the commentary worth a listen. However, the lackluster contributions from the historians makes this an erratic piece.
A slew of video pieces follow, and the main attraction comes from To Sir, with Love II, a 1996 TV sequel. It runs one hour, 32 minutes, 30 seconds and brings Poitier back to his role as Mark Thackeray.
After “Sir” retires from North Quay Secondary School, he takes on a new challenge: a high school in Chicago. There he takes on another class of incorrigibles who he tries to rehabilitate.
Despite its status as a TV movie in an era when TV movies usually meant cheese, Love II manages a surprising level of talent behind it. In addition to Poitier, the cast includes solid characters actors like Daniel J. Travanti and John Beasley. We find brief cameos from original movie actors Geeson and Lulu as well.
Love II also involves Oscar-nominated director Peter Bogdanovich behind the camera. Does this good-for-1990s-TV-movie roster mean Love II rises above expectations?
Not really, though I can’t call it a disappointment. Given I didn’t much care for the 1967 movie, it seemed unlikely the sequel would fall short of hopes.
I don’t think Love II delivers a bad movie, and since I find the original to seem lackluster, I don’t think it shows substantial decline from its predecessor. Still, nothing here rises above trite “inspirational teacher” tales of its era.
On the positive side, the “wayward youths” of Love II seem considerably more dangerous and threatening than those of the first movie. As noted in the body of my review, the London “toughs” never came across as especially wild or unruly.
The kids here display more of an obvious challenge to Sir. However, they feel like cliché “bad high school kids” and the movie never develops them better than that.
Also, due to the nature of the first movie’s story, Love II becomes more predictable. We know that Sir will shape up these students so the end never seems in doubt.
The 1967 movie managed some tension due to Sir’s tenuous connection to education. He only takes a teaching job out of desperation, so the possibility he’ll leave the profession hangs over the story.
No such drama occurs here, of course. This makes Sir a less compelling character, as he seems one-note.
Ultimately, Love II provides a mediocre but watchable sequel. Don’t expect much from it, though it’s always good to see Poitier.
Many featurettes ensue, and Look and Learn runs 11 minutes, one second. It offers comments from art director Tony Woollard.
As expected, Woollard covers aspects of the movie’s sets and locations as well as related domains. Woollard provides an enjoyable collection of observations.
Those Schoolboy Days goes for 23 minutes, 38 seconds and brings notes from actor Christian Roberts. He discusses how he got his role, his performance and related experiences.
At times Roberts gets into some decent memories. However, the chat feels a bit rambling and doesn’t become especially compelling.
Next comes ER Braithwaite: In His Own Words, a 23-minute, 44-second chat with the author. He discusses his life and aspects of Love in this engaging little chat.
Lulu and the B-Side spans five minutes, three seconds and presents notes from singers/actors Lulu and Michael Des Barres.
They mainly tell us about the movie’s title song. That makes the featurette worthwhile but limited.
After this we find Miniskirts, Blue Jeans and Pop Music, a 15-minute, 22-second reel. It involves Des Barres and Lulu as they cover their experiences on the film.
Why does the disc separate the two Lulu/Des Barres segments and not make them one piece? I don’t know, but “Jeans” becomes the more informative of the two, even if Des Barres comes across as intensely full of himself.
To Sidney, With Love occupies five minutes, 14 seconds and features former CAA agent Marty Baum.
He tells us a little about the financial side of the production as well as Poitier’s casting. Though brief, we get a handful of insights.
With He Chose to Stay, we find an 11-minute reel that delivers remarks from Thomas-El.
As with his part of the commentary, he looks at the movie from the perspective of an educator. Given how much Thomas-El already said, this piece feels largely redundant.
To Potter, With Love goes for nine minutes, 38 seconds and includes material from actor Christopher Chittell. He talks about his memories of the shoot in this moderately informative interview.
In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc concludes with Beginnings of an Acting Career. It lasts 23 minutes, three seconds and offers notes from actor Stewart Bevan.
Like his colleagues, Bevan examines his career and experiences on Love. He offers a genial interview but probably gets too much time given his minor role in the film.
As a classroom drama, To Sir, with Love feels dated and slight. Despite a strong lead performance from Sidney Poitier, it becomes too silly to succeed. The 4K UHD comes with positive picture and audio as well as a long set of supplements. Don’t expect much drama from this one.
Note that as of January 2023, the 4K UHD disc of To Sir, with Love can be purchased only as part of a six-movie “Columbia Classics Collection Volume 3”. This set also includes 4K UHD versions of It Happened One Night, From Here to Eternity, The Last Picture Show, Annie and As Good As It Gets.