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Classic Movie Series to show 'Blackboard Jungle' March 14 in Bigfork

An exterior photo of the Edge Theatre Gallery
Edge Center for the Arts
The Edge Theatre Gallery in Bigfork.

The Edge Center for the Arts brings the monthly Classic Movie Series event with host and retired film professor, Jack Nachbar. This month's features the social drama "Blackboard Jungle.”

BIGFORK — Not many films can claim to have helped a music genre enter the mainstream. This month’s film in the Classic Movie Series helped bring rock 'n' roll to a national audience.

The Classic Movie Series continues at the Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, with host Jack Nachbar. This month features a film that helped a lot of actors get their start in Hollywood and famously featured Bill Haley & His Comets’ hit “Rock Around the Clock.” The film is Blackboard Jungle, starring Glenn Ford, Anne Francis and a young Sidney Poitier.

Blackboard Jungle is about a young English teacher who gets hired to work at a violent inner-city school where even the most well-intentioned teachers struggle to reach their students.

Ford portrays the English teacher and, as always, he delivers a subtle and stoic performance of a man who refuses to give up against what seems like impossible odds. With this film, you can appreciate Ford’s choice to never go over the top, which would have risked this film going into melodramatic territory.

The other standout performances in this film include Poitier, who portrays a student who has more potential than most can see, and Vic Morrow, the most violent student in the school. Every time Poitier appears on screen, it’s impossible to ignore his commanding presence that would make him a future Hollywood star. Morrow, however, delivers a sinister performance where every scene he’s in leaves the audience feeling tense, not knowing what he will do next.

This film is mostly remembered for featuring “Rock Around the Clock” in its opening and closing credits. The song was released in 1954, but wasn’t well known. After it was featured in Blackboard Jungle, it became a hit and was an anthem for 1950s rebellious youth. It became the No. 1 single on the Billboard charts for two months.

The screening of Blackboard Jungle in Bigfork will be accompanied by a presentation from Jack Nachbar and a cartoon from 1955. The showing is free and open to the public. Also, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this Sunday, there will be some Irish-style treats at the intermission. Audience members are also encouraged to wear green.

Listen above to Jack Nachbar's recent appearance on the KAXE Morning Show, including some of his thoughts on this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

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