The Class of 1984 1982 ***

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There’s not much classy about The Class of 1984; Mark L Lester’s exploitation movie is as reactionary as they come. Andrew Norris (Perry King) is an young idealistic teacher whose ideas are compromised when he starts work at a hell-hole of an inner-city high school. Old hand Terry Corrigan (Roddy McDowall) has a more practical approach; he teaches his class at gun-point. But the shadow of gang-leader Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) pushes Norris too far, and he starts fighting back on behalf of his downtrodden students. A striking early scene of Stegman playing an outlandish piano piece sets the off-kilter tone; Lester’s film may have turned out like a Death Wish clone, but it’s aiming for a Clockwork Orange level of societal commentary. Even when table saws are pressed into service, The Class of 1984 still keeps a firm grip on its ‘the world is going to hell in a hand-basket’ motif.

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