A hot-button topic of the day, this conflict-filled drama concerns the effects of imposed busing of white students into an all-black school in order to diversify the enrollment. Lockhart plays a former basketball great who has escaped the ghetto to become a well-regarded teacher at a white school. One day, he is coerced into transferring to Lafayette High School, a black school downtown into which 200 white students are to be deposited. Alarmed parents use connections or other means to avoid this, meaning that only 60 of the white kids actually appear there on the first day of school. They are barely off the bus before reverse discrimination takes place and they are taunted and mocked. Resentments continue to build, thanks especially to one ringleader (Watson) who feels threatened by the presence of the new students and takes pains to make life difficult for them. Lockhart refuses to give up on Watson, despite his deplorable behavior and, for a time, is able to start to break through to him. However, Watson's anger over a friend's suspension and his dislike of Bridges, who wants to play basketball on the team, cause him to reignite his negativity. Lockhart gives a solid, smooth, amiable performance. He's idealistic, but not unbelievably so, and handles the material well. MacLachlan plays a fellow teacher who wants out of the almost prison-like school, but who warms to his line of thinking. Bridges does a fine job as a persecuted student. His final scene displays a remarkably fit physique. Watson seems to be bringing some degree of dimension to an outright villainous role. Other notable performances include Asner as the school's P.E. teacher, Reiner as a trouble-causing white student and Kleeb as a well meaning, but ineffectual teacher. While the script certainly points to the black kids as making a difficult situation worse, there are various good and bad folks on both sides. The situations presented do not tend to be outside of the realm of possibility (with the possible exception of a highly invasive act performed by some female students at the climax, though even that could taken place.) As is to be expected, there are many episodes and vignettes depicting the differences and problems of these kids, but often they are handled in a disarming, even amusing way, such as when Lockhart tries a new way to get illiterate youths interested in reading. The red tape and political machinations of the situation do not get ignored and the film doesn't try to pretend that there are any easy answers. Rather, it tries to show that everyone has to give a bit in order for everyone to get along. It also promotes the value of getting an education. A different take on the somewhat similar "To Sir With Love" in which black Sidney Poitier tried to make headway in a lower class, predominantly white school. Here, black Lockhart faces hostility from members of his own race who feel that he has sold out. Recent TCM airings have a curiously censored version, which sometimes removes the word "honky" and sometimes doesn't, along with varied allowance of the "n" word while some, but not all, cursing is dubbed out as well. The scene in the girls' locker room may have been pared down, too.