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March 25: Blackboard Jungle

March 25, 2014
blackboardjungleBlackboard Jungle, a film written and directed by Richard Brooks (Reuben Sax) and produced by Pandro Samuel Berman, was released throughout the U.S. on this date in 1955 (it opened in New York on 3/19/55). A story about juvenile delinquency, urban chaos, teen culture, and the challenges of modern education, the film featured Bill Haley and His Comets’ “Rock Around The Clock,” which became a #1 hit and kicked off the mass popularity of rock and roll. Brooks’ other best-known films include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958); Elmer Gantry (1960), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay); In Cold Blood (1967); and Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977). His 1945 novel, The Brick Foxhole, which Wikipedia describes as a “searing portrait of stateside soldiers [who are] tainted by religious, racial and homophobic bigotry,” was made into the Oscar-nominated film Crossfire (1947), the first major Hollywood movie dealing with anti-Semitism. Brooks also wrote Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s 1948 hit, Key Largo, among many other movies. To see the “Rock Around the Clock” scene from Blackboard Jungle (with underage biracial dancing girls), click here and scroll down. Richard Dadier: There will be no calling out. You have any questions to ask, just raise your hand. You hear that, Miller? Gregory W. Miller: Sure, Teach. You coming in strong. I can’t tune you out. Gregory W. Miller: His name ain’t “Teach.” Belazi: It’s “Daddy-Oh” Artie West: Hey, don’t you know his name, jerk? Belazi: Excuse me, Mr. Jerk. —Richard Brooks, Blackboard Jungle
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