UK Release date: 19th December 1968 (Premiere, London)
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 11th February 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This film came up in an online conversation about the Japanese film ‘Battle Royalle’ as an example of an earlier film featuring violent schoolchildren. I really didn’t know what to expect when I started to watch it and it kept me guessing all the way through I’m afraid. It’s one of those 1960’s films that seems to be trying to be a little too intellectual for its own good. I will tell you more after this brief summary.
The plot surrounds the goings on at a boarding school in England, and in particular those goings on in College House. At the top of the tree are the faculty who rule the classrooms with and iron grip. Then there are the Whips, or as I prefer to see them, the Prefects; these guys rule the halls and the dormitories. Then there are the Senior Boys and finally the Juniors. Much of the film is taken up with the general life in the school, all the bickering, fights and general tension that goes on amongst a group of boys together. We then turn our attention to three seniors, Mick Travis, Johnny and Wallace. Travis is obsessed with war and this sparks the beginnings of a revolution at the school. I will stop there before I say too much, but I assure both you and the Spoiler Police that I have probably made it sound far more exciting than it is.
This is quite an odd film to watch; there are scenes in colour and then there are scenes in black and white. I tried to figure out the logic behind it but couldn’t see any… maybe they just ran out of colour film? All the performances were pretty good, in particular the older boys. And so I’ll give honourable mentions to; a very young looking Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis, David Wood as Johnny, Richard Warwick as Wallace and Christine Noonan as The Girl. Also; Rupert Webster as Bobby Phillips, Robert Swann as Rountree, Hugh Thomas as Denson and Michael Cadman as Fortinbras.
Unfortunately, apart from a few scenes, including the crazy ending, I found this film quite dull. There seems to be no narrative that could be easily followed; you kind of pick up little pieces here and there. The cutting between colour and black and white also made no sense (to me). Over all, I found it quite disappointing but I feel it’s one of those you don’t ‘get’ until you’ve seen it a few times. Sadly I don’t feel inspired enough to give it another look right now. I guess it does have something to say, but I couldn’t see it… Not recommended.
My score: 5.6/10.
IMDb Score: 7.7/10 (based on 9,504 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes: NO LISTING
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Mick Travis: [whispering] Stephans. Whatever you're doing now... don't.
Mick Travis: There's only one thing you can do with a girl like this. Walk naked into the sea together as the sun sets. Make love once... Then die.