Up The Down Staircase

Synopsis: Sylvia Barrett is a rookie teacher at New York's inner-city Calvin Coolidge High: her lit classes are overcrowded, a window is broken, there's no chalk, books arrive late. The administration is concerned mainly with forms and rules (there's an up and a down staircase); bells ring at the wrong time. Nevertheless, she tries. How she handles the chaos and her despair in her first semester makes up the film: a promising student drops out, another sleeps through class, a girl with a crush on a male teacher gets suicidal, and a bright but troublesome student misunderstands Sylvia's reaching out. A discussion of Dickens, parents' night, and a mock trial highlight the term. Can she make it?
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Robert Mulligan
  1 win & 3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
124 min

Make way for the lady, man.

-Hey, lady, watch it.

-How about that?

-Try the other door, Teach.

-Hey, try the windows, Teach.

-Maybe this door, Teach.

-Try ''Open Sesame.''

-Hey, go ahead, Teach.

-Try everything.

All right, how do we get in?

Can't get in till somebody comes out.

Yeah, like a toilet, baby.

-Hey! The door.


New students report to 121,

old students to 123,

transfer students, 127.

New students report to 121,

old students to 123,

transfer students, 127.

New students report to 121,

old students to 123,

transfer students, 127.

Disregard all bells.

Disregard all bells.

Keep all circulars in alphabetical order.

Keep all directives in numerical order.

File before 3:

Delaney cards and absentee plans,

teaching, students...

Program cards from yellow...

From master program, card blue,

-teachers program card...

-Excuse me. Morning.

Morning, Miss Finch.

lt asks here how many basketballs l need.

-Do you have your key?


-What's your room number?


Keys, keys, pick up your keys.

Sign for your keys.

Teachers must not punch each other in.

Teachers must keep their letter boxes

empty at all times.

All cases of assault and attempted assault

suffered by teachers

in connection with their employment

must be reported at once.

Disregard the bell.

You're Miss Barrett?

And l'm Ella Friedenberg,

Guidance Counselor.

You'll receive a directive on it, of course,

but with new teachers

l like to warn them personally

to watch for latent maladjustments

and send them to me on alternate

Tuesdays for depth coverage.

Teachers only.

But l... l am a teacher.

Miss Barrett, do you realize

you're going up the down staircase?

l'm sorry, Dr. Bester...

Dr. Bester!

Dr. Bester,

what do l want with basketballs?

Hey, that's the teach

that we saw this morning.

Oh, that's right. Ain't she cute, man?

She's gotta be my teacher.

-Hope so, man.

-Please, she gotta be my teach.

Shades up there.

Windows down four inches from the top.

Mr. McHabe,

l could only find one piece of chalk.

-Our supplies are running low.

-On the first day?

Rubber bands, desk blotters, board erasers

and paper clips are expected next week.

We have blue pencils, no red.

You mean that l can have basketballs

but no chalk?

Well, what do you want

with basketballs, Miss Barrett?

They asked me to fill out this requisition.

Well, it was obviously meant

for the Phys. Ed. teacher.

Shades up there.

Windows down four inches from the top.

Mr. McHabe...

There he is.

Good morning, Mr. Barringer.

l'm Alice Blake.

l had you last term in English.

You mean you were in my class.

This is my friend, Carole Blanca.

She had you, too.

l would have said

your name was Carmelita.

l changed it over the summer.

We wish to express our gratitude

for the way you gave

so unstingily of yourself to us.

Well, l'm glad l taught you

to express yourself so... So well.

Mr. Barringer, l wanted to be in your class,

but they put me in Miss Barrett's.

And l don't even know Miss Barrett,

and l thought maybe l could switch.

Why would you want to switch?

Think of the poetic heritage

of the name ''Barrett.''

Remember, Alice,

it was a Miss Barrett who wrote,

''How do l love thee?

Let me count the ways.''

Now, someone once said

that first impressions...

Please don't block the doorway.

Please come in.

Hey, Lou, no wonder, she's a dame.

l got a dame for homeroom.

Why do l always get stuck with dames?

You want l should slug him, Teach?


Please sit down. Yes, it is.

Please, sit down. Sit.

Take your seats, please. Everybody. Yes.

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Tad Mosel

Tad Mosel (May 1, 1922 – August 24, 2008) was an American playwright and one of the leading dramatists of hour-long teleplay genre for live television during the 1950s. He received the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play All the Way Home. more…

All Tad Mosel scripts | Tad Mosel Scripts

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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