Warner Home Video
MSRP: $14.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes


The Pitch

School House Rock
vs. Welcome Back Kotter

The Humans

Cicely Tyson, Dianne Kirksey, Morgan Freeman, Marsha Warfield

The Nutshell

The Marva Collins Story is the real-life account of a dedicated African-American teacher in Chicago who faced tough odds trying to help children succeed in their inner-city school. Collins also faced adversarial colleagues who disapproved of her teaching methods. With the help of her supportive husband (played by Morgan Freeman) and her family Collins used her own retirement money to establish the Westside Preparatory School in 1975 with 6 students.”

The Lowdown

America’s educational system needs 10,000 Marva Collins (Cicely Tyson) and sadly, after 33 years, it seems Marva’s dedication and hard work did not inspire enough teachers because the educational system in urban neighborhoods is still a mess today. Frustrated with how students who could not adjust in public schools to the point that teachers gave up on them Marva knew there had to be another option for these forgotten kids. She took a bold step by setting up a private school in her home and along with her family Marva managed to set a precedent in offering other options for children and parents who have given up hope in how the educational system in its current state was beneficial.

Considering that The Marva Collins story was a made for television movie that aired in 1981 it is still a story worth checking out because the subject matter is just as relevant today -more than ever in fact. The sad part is that nothing has changed and with the exception of home schooling there are just not many options for parents and children today.

Cicely Tyson was born to portray strong women who go against the restraints of the business as usual crowd. Tyson manages to carry the entire movie with a strong and compassionate performance that shows she had nothing but admiration for the real Marva Collins. Morgan Freeman, who portrays Marva’s husband Clarence, is good but he is overshadowed by Tyson. The thing I was struck by with Morgan was how young he looked because before this film I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look anything but old!

Even though The Marva Collins story is your typical feel good television movie (the hardships that Marva faces are glossed over too quickly with happy endings) there is still enough here to give one a general idea of why Marva left public teaching and managed to successfully give troubled students a second chance.

The Package

No extras and what would have been nice was a documentary that delved more into Marva’s story.

6.0 out of 10