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Up the Down Staircase (film)

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Title: Up the Down Staircase (film)  
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Language: English
Subject: 5th Moscow International Film Festival, Robert Mulligan, Fred Karlin, Clara's Heart, 1967 National Society of Film Critics Awards
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Up the Down Staircase (film)

Up the Down Staircase
Film poster
Directed by Robert Mulligan
Produced by Robert Mulligan
Alan J. Pakula
Written by Bel Kaufman (novel)
Tad Mosel
Starring Sandy Dennis
Patrick Bedford
Eileen Heckart
Jean Stapleton
Music by Fred Karlin
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • July 19, 1967 (1967-07-19)
Running time 124 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $5,000,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

Up the Down Staircase is a 1967 American drama film about the first, trying assignment for a young, idealistic teacher played by Sandy Dennis. Robert Mulligan directed the film and Tad Mosel wrote the screenplay adaptation of the novel of the same name by Bel Kaufman.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Response 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The film's title is a reference to the staircases inside a public, overcrowded New York City high school with a number of troubled students. Sylvia Barrett, fresh out of graduate school, has just been hired to teach English to the teens in this place. Many are undisciplined, a few are hanging with gangs. Not everyone is agreeable with Sylvia's quiet approach to the situation, but she intends to get the teens to become good students and get them into real learning.



Sandy Dennis took the role of Sylvia Barrett after winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? This was her first and only film with producer Alan J. Pakula and director Robert Mulligan. The film also featured early appearances from Bud Cort and Jean Stapleton. Cort later did other films: he is best known as the suicidal youth who meets a vivacious Holocaust survivor in Harold and Maude. Jean Stapleton would land the pivotal role of Edith Bunker on the TV show All in the Family.

The film was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival where Sandy Dennis won the award for Best Actress.[2]

Outdoor scenes were filmed on 1st Avenue and 100th Street in East Harlem. The outdoor school scenes were filmed at JHS 99 also on 100th St (not the former Benjamin Franklin HS). Some indoor school and classroom scenes were filmed at the former Haaren HS on 59th St and 10th Ave (today's CUNY John Jay campus), and a studio in Chelsea.


Though a moderate hit and forgotten about in later years, the film was liked by critics and many loved the performance of Sandy Dennis. Later in the year, the film would be eclipsed by another movie about teaching, the megahit To Sir, With Love starring Sidney Poitier.


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  2. ^ "5th Moscow International Film Festival (1967)". MIFF. Retrieved 2012-12-09. 

External links

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