Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 50 Greatest NYC Movies — #39

Up the Down Staircase (dir. Robert Mulligan, 1967)

06-21 Up the Down Staircase

The first feature film to be shot entirely on location in New York City under the auspices of the new Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting set the stage for an industry that now employs over 130,000 New Yorkers to the tune of over $7 billion. Sandy Dennis’ iconic performance as a rookie high school teacher in a tough neighborhood was filmed in East Harlem at an actual public high school. It looked like no New York City movie before, but would be emulated and improved upon many times after. And it remains a triumphant story of the power of passion for learning among kids whose chances were few.



  1. The film was based on a book by New York educator, Bel Kaufman. Ms Kaufman was the great granddaughter of Shmuel Rabinowitz, better known by his pen name, Sholem Aleichem

    • Matthew Baker

      You may recall, the passing of Bel Kaufman last year was commemorated in the In Memoriam reel at the FIrst Annual GANYC Apple Awards ceremony.

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