Michelle Pfeiffer may be the rare female exception, but in Dangerous Minds she joins a roll call of movie teachers who become class acts. Here, some of the screen’s best educators, graded for their ability to win hearts — and minds.
STAND AND DELIVER (1988, Warner)
Teacher: Caring Jaime Escalante, a.k.a. Kemo (Edward James Olmos).
School: Garfield High.
Students: Promiscuous, delinquent, seemingly disaffected contemporary East L.A. teens.
Encouraging words: ”The only thing I need from you is gana [desire].” A+
CONRACK (1974, FoxVideo)
Teacher: Young, dedicated Pat Conroy (Jon Voight).
Students: Mostly illiterate black children on an island off South Carolina, circa 1969.
Encouraging words: ”I will. Higher, stronger, faster, better. Either a Caesar or nobody.” A+
TO SIR, WITH LOVE (1967, Columbia TriStar)
Teacher: Rookie Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier).
School: North Quay Secondary School.
Students: Promiscuous, delinquent, seemingly disaffected teens from London’s East End, circa 1967.
Encouraging words: ”It’s your duty to change the world if you can.” A
DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989, Buena Vista)
Teacher: Ebullient John Keating (Robin Williams).
School: Welton Academy.
Students: Upper-crust 1959 New England teens.
Encouraging words: ”Carpe diem.” A
GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS (1939, MGM/ UA)
Teacher: Shy, well-meaning Mr. Chipping (Robert Donat).
Students: Privileged Brits at the turn of the century.
Encouraging words: ”Give a boy a sense of humor and a sense of proportion, and he’ll stand up to anything.” A
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982, MCA/Universal)
Teacher: Put-upon Mr. Hand (Ray Walston).
School: See title.
Subject: U.S. history.
Students: Promiscuous, delinquent, seemingly disaffected contemporary L.A. teens.
Encouraging words: ”What are you people, on dope?” B