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
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]
hypotenuse... hypotenuse... hypotenuse
Who's that muttering?
He can't help it, sir.
He says 'hypotenuse' all the time, sir.
He likes the word.
Mr. Pelham said he was 'hypotenus-ed' by it, sir!
Stop it! Very well, you've had ample warning. This form will kept in on Saturday afternoon from 2:30.
[...] See more »
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 »
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.
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