Up the Down Staircase (1967)

123 mins | Drama | 19 July 1967

Director:

Robert Mulligan

Writer:

Tad Mosel

Producer:

Alan J. Pakula

Cinematographer:

Joseph Coffey

Production Designer:

George Jenkins

Production Company:

Park Place Productions
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HISTORY

The film was based on Bel Kaufman’s 1965 novel of the same name, which had originated from Kaufman’s short story,“From a Teacher’s Wastebasket,” published in the 17 Nov 1962 Saturday Review, as noted in a 24 Feb 1965 Var item. The novel was described in the 16 Dec 1964 NYT as “a tale of high school experiences made up of ‘notes on scrap paper, letters, memos, directives, circulars, students’ notes, blackboard sayings and occasional snatches of dialogue and jargon.” Within a few months of release, the book rose to the second position on the NYT best-seller list, according to a 28 Apr 1965 Var brief, which announced that Warner Bros. Pictures had acquired screen rights, and that Alan Pakula was set to produce the film version with Robert Mulligan directing. Screenwriter Tad Mosel was brought on to adapt Kaufman’s book, a sizeable task given the nature of the material. His screenplay ultimately received praise the 19 Jul 1967 LAT review, which credited Mosel with “transmut[ing] the material into a major and cohesive motion picture.”
       On 7 Jan 1966, DV reported that location scouting was underway in New York City, where filming was set to begin in Apr or May 1966. Casting for teenagers of various racial backgrounds, including African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Chinese Americans, was ongoing. As noted in a 17 May 1966 NYT article, the New York Department of Education initially rejected the filmmakers’ request to shoot at city public schools, stating that the “film would present a derogatory picture of the city’s school system.” However, Mayor John Lindsay, who ... More Less

The film was based on Bel Kaufman’s 1965 novel of the same name, which had originated from Kaufman’s short story,“From a Teacher’s Wastebasket,” published in the 17 Nov 1962 Saturday Review, as noted in a 24 Feb 1965 Var item. The novel was described in the 16 Dec 1964 NYT as “a tale of high school experiences made up of ‘notes on scrap paper, letters, memos, directives, circulars, students’ notes, blackboard sayings and occasional snatches of dialogue and jargon.” Within a few months of release, the book rose to the second position on the NYT best-seller list, according to a 28 Apr 1965 Var brief, which announced that Warner Bros. Pictures had acquired screen rights, and that Alan Pakula was set to produce the film version with Robert Mulligan directing. Screenwriter Tad Mosel was brought on to adapt Kaufman’s book, a sizeable task given the nature of the material. His screenplay ultimately received praise the 19 Jul 1967 LAT review, which credited Mosel with “transmut[ing] the material into a major and cohesive motion picture.”
       On 7 Jan 1966, DV reported that location scouting was underway in New York City, where filming was set to begin in Apr or May 1966. Casting for teenagers of various racial backgrounds, including African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Chinese Americans, was ongoing. As noted in a 17 May 1966 NYT article, the New York Department of Education initially rejected the filmmakers’ request to shoot at city public schools, stating that the “film would present a derogatory picture of the city’s school system.” However, Mayor John Lindsay, who had recently pledged to ease the “red tape” which had been making it difficult for television and film productions to shoot in city locations, overruled the department’s decision, allowing Warner Bros. to secure exterior locations at Margaret Knox Junior High School at 100th Street and First Avenue, where five days of shooting was planned, and at Haaren High School at 58th Street and Tenth Avenue, where six weeks of interiors and exteriors would be shot. The 6 Jul 1966 NYT reported that, while the Board of Education had ultimately granted permission, it had stipulated that the school in the picture “would not be labeled a New York school.” Teenage cast members were recruited from area high schools, and NYT stated that “up to 500 New York students” would appear as background actors, while a 13 Jul 1966 Var brief gave a lower estimate of “200 nonprofessional youngsters.” Extras were paid $12-$27 per day, according to an article in the 4 Sep 1966 NYT, while those with speaking parts received “upwards of $350 a week.”
       Principal photography began on 5 Jul 1966, as cited in an 8 Jul 1966 DV production chart. Bel Kaufman, who had based the novel on her own experiences as a New York City teacher, served as a technical advisor on the set but was not credited in that capacity.
       On 25 Aug 1966, DV noted that Alan Pakula was planning a wrap party to take place at Upstairs at the Downstairs nightclub on 56th Street, where some shooting had also taken place.
       Although the 1 Jul 1966 DV stated that Robert Mulligan had sought jazz musician Gerry Mulligan, who was then romantically involved with lead actress Sandy Dennis, to score the film, Gerry Mulligan did not participate on the project.
       The picture opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 19 Jul 1967 and in New York City one month later. It received largely positive reviews, and consistent praise went to Sandy Dennis for her portrayal of “Sylvia Barrett.” The film was invited to Spain’s Valladolid International Film Festival, and it was also chosen as the U.S. entry to the Moscow Film Festival, where Sandy Dennis won the Best Actress award, in a tie with Norwegian actress Grynet Molvig, as announced in the 3 Aug 1967 NYT.
       Vincent Tubbs acted as the film’s publicist, according to a 23 Jun 1966 Los Angeles Sentinel brief and the 7 Jun 1967 Var. The following actors were listed as cast members in DV and LAT notices published between 11 Jul 1966 and 19 Jul 1967: Bob O’Connell; George McCoy; Jeff Segal; Sylvia Moon; Mona Lofton; Norma Darden; Don Ramsey; Earl Sydnor; Sheila Scott; Janet Paul; Evelyn Solann; Ralph Courtenay; Merritt Smith; Joseph Julian; Ida Cullen; Ed Harding; Stanley and Javotte Greene and their two sons; Alan Vaters; Claire Abbey; Eric Elgar; Annette Krasko; John Gerstad; and a sextet made up of high school students called “The Angry Six,” a.k.a. “The New York Public Library.” The 27 Jul 1966 Var and 4 Sep 1966 NYT claimed that Tony Major, who was credited as a production assistant, played the role of a schoolteacher and also served as “a dialog director and co-ordinator of amateur talent.” According to a 19 Aug 1966 DV item, screenwriter Tad Mosel appeared in the role of a “school pianist.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Jan 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1966
p. 16.
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1966
p. 7.
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 Jul 1966
p. 8.
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1966
p. 6.
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
19 Aug 1966
p. 12.
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Sep 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Sep 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Oct 1966
p. 2.
Los Angeles Sentinel
23 Jun 1966
Section B, p. 10.
Los Angeles Sentinel
29 Sep 1966
Section B, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1966
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
19 Jul 1967
Section D, p. 1, 12.
New York Times
16 Dec 1964
p. 40.
New York Times
17 May 1966.
---
New York Times
19 Jun 1966.
---
New York Times
6 Jul 1966
p. 39.
New York Times
4 Sep 1966.
---
New York Times
12 Jul 1967.
---
New York Times
3 Aug 1967
p. 26.
New York Times
18 Aug 1967
p. 36.
New York Times
23 Jan 1974.
---
Variety
24 Feb 1965
p. 75.
Variety
28 Apr 1965
p. 18.
Variety
6 Jul 1966
p. 15.
Variety
13 Jul 1966
p. 5.
Variety
13 Jul 1966
p. 12.
Variety
27 Jul 1966
p. 21.
Variety
3 Aug 1966
p. 4.
Variety
31 Aug 1966
p. 18.
Variety
29 Mar 1967
p. 22.
Variety
3 May 1967
p. 6, 30.
Variety
17 May 1967
p. 3, 18.
Variety
7 Jun 1967
p. 18.
Variety
19 Jul 1967
p. 16.
Variety
3 Jan 1968
p. 25.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Alan J. Pakula-Robert Mulligan Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp
SOUND
Boom op
MAKEUP
Sandy dennis' makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod asst
Scr supv
Casting
Stills
Stills
Grip
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1965).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 July 1967
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 19 July 1967
New York opening: 17 August 1967
Production Date:
began 5 July 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Park Place Productions
Copyright Date:
1 July 1967
Copyright Number:
LP35722
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
123
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Armed with only a college degree and her youthful idealism, Sylvia Barrett arrives at Calvin Coolidge High School to begin her career as an English teacher. The school is located in a New York City slum area where the overcrowded classes are filled with unruly and often hostile teenagers from underprivileged families. Further, Sylvia must contend with seemingly endless paperwork and fellow teachers whose experience has made them either indifferent or cynical. Sylvia initially retains her optimism; but as the school year progresses, she finds herself unable to cope with the needs of her students. The delinquent but highly intelligent Joe Ferone misinterprets her interest in him and tries to seduce her; lovesick Alice Blake writes a love letter to one of the male teachers, Paul Barringer, and then attempts suicide when he callously corrects the grammar in her letter; and Ed Williams, an embittered black youth, drops out of school because he feels that no amount of education will enable him to overcome white prejudice. Toward the end of the school year, Sylvia believes that she is a failure and submits her resignation. However, during a mock trial in her classroom, Jose Rodriguez, a previously shy and reticent Puerto Rican boy, suddenly assumes the authority and confidence of a court judge and handles himself with new self-assurance. Realizing that despite all the frustration and heartbreak she has reached at least one of her students, Sylvia decides to remain at Coolidge ... +


Armed with only a college degree and her youthful idealism, Sylvia Barrett arrives at Calvin Coolidge High School to begin her career as an English teacher. The school is located in a New York City slum area where the overcrowded classes are filled with unruly and often hostile teenagers from underprivileged families. Further, Sylvia must contend with seemingly endless paperwork and fellow teachers whose experience has made them either indifferent or cynical. Sylvia initially retains her optimism; but as the school year progresses, she finds herself unable to cope with the needs of her students. The delinquent but highly intelligent Joe Ferone misinterprets her interest in him and tries to seduce her; lovesick Alice Blake writes a love letter to one of the male teachers, Paul Barringer, and then attempts suicide when he callously corrects the grammar in her letter; and Ed Williams, an embittered black youth, drops out of school because he feels that no amount of education will enable him to overcome white prejudice. Toward the end of the school year, Sylvia believes that she is a failure and submits her resignation. However, during a mock trial in her classroom, Jose Rodriguez, a previously shy and reticent Puerto Rican boy, suddenly assumes the authority and confidence of a court judge and handles himself with new self-assurance. Realizing that despite all the frustration and heartbreak she has reached at least one of her students, Sylvia decides to remain at Coolidge High. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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