14 user 20 critic

Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971)

A new school teacher learns that the previous teacher was killed by his pupils, and he fears the same will happen to him.


John Mackenzie


Simon Raven (screenplay), Giles Cooper (play)




Cast overview, first billed only:
David Hemmings ... John Ebony
Douglas Wilmer ... Headmaster
Tony Haygarth ... Cary Farthingale (as Anthony Haygarth)
Carolyn Seymour ... Silvia Ebony
Hamilton Dyce Hamilton Dyce ... Mr. Winstanley
Barbara Lott Barbara Lott ... Mrs. Winstanley
Donald Gee Donald Gee ... Stretton
David Jackson David Jackson ... Clackworth
Hubert Rees Hubert Rees ... Blisterine
David Auker ... Aggeridge
Tom Morris Tom Morris ... Ankerton
Richard Gill Richard Gill ... Borby
Michael Kitchen ... Bungabine
Nicholas Hoye Nicholas Hoye ... Cloistermouth
Tom Owen ... Cuthbun


Fed up with the frantic world of advertising, the former advertising executive, John Ebony, takes up a position as a teacher at Chantry, a public boarding school for boys. Eager to fill in for his unfortunate predecessor, and educate the next generation of pupils, instead, the unsuspecting first-time instructor is shocked to discover that his efforts to exercise authority have the exact opposite effect of what was intended. Then, the seemingly respectful but devilishly manipulative teenagers of Class Lower 5B drop a bombshell, and Ebony starts fearing for his life. Now, having to deal with a pompous headmaster and a disbelieving wife, it is evident that the unruly students have the upper hand. What happens if John fails to co-operate? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


if you're curious about terror ...


Action | Drama | Thriller


GP | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Very similar in plot and storyline to Sidney Lumet's " Child's Play" which was released the following year. See more »


[John Ebony's first day teaching. The students are taking turns reading from a history book]
Wittering: [faintly] hypotenuse... hypotenuse... hypotenuse
John Ebony: Who's that muttering?
Wittering: Me, sir.
Lipstrob: He can't help it, sir.
Cuthbun: He says 'hypotenuse' all the time, sir.
Ankerton: He likes the word.
Aggeridge: Mr. Pelham said he was 'hypotenus-ed' by it, sir!
[general laughter]
John Ebony: Stop it! Very well, you've had ample warning. This form will kept in on Saturday afternoon from 2:30.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the closing credits, when the names of actors playing the schoolboys appear they are listed in alphabetical order according to the character's surname. This is so as to resemble the class's register. The character of 'Zigo' appears at the very end but as he never appears in the film, instead of an actor being credited, it merely says "Zigo....Absent". See more »


Version of Theatre 625: Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1965) See more »


God Be In My Head
Music by H. Walford Davies
See more »

User Reviews

Chilling Hitchcockian thriller
3 February 2003 | by simon-118See all my reviews

A forgotten gem, this is one of the earliest films John Mackenzie directed after a few years working in television, before he returned to television in time to shoot some of the finest Play For Todays of the 1970s. And along with The Long Good Friday and Ruby this is Mackenzie finest achievement in the cinema. A stunning thriller, this is an assured, efficient filming of a chilly concept. David Hemmings is excellently vulnerable in the lead, the perfect Hitchcockian hero, believed by nobody apart from the viewer. The class of boys includes a young Michael Kitchen, and there's Tony haygarth as a world weary colleague whose lack of joie de vivre begins to corrupt Hemmings as much as his class do.

The most frightening sequence is the shocking persecution of the wife in the squash courts, a superbly staged scene that is quite a jaw-dropper considering the age of the film. In fact it is more the quaint English setting that adds the real shyock to the scene. It is interesting to compare this film with two other public school movies of the era, inevitably Lindsay Anderson's If....but more significantly the brilliant Walk A Crooked Path

which similarly portrays the public school boys as corrupt, ruthless and cold blooded, brilliantly adept at money making, no matter how immorally, and trained to view the world with a haughty authority.

Unman Wittering And Zigo is a truly gripping thriller, and proves Mackenzie is a great thriller maker as he illustrated in pieces like Dennis Potter's Double Dare and The Long Good Friday even more vividly.

34 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 14 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

23 September 1971 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Unman, Wittering and Zigo See more »

Filming Locations:

Berkshire, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hemmings, Mediarts See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed