To be honest this film made me feel better for the hell we used to put our teachers through. The random shouting, throwing of paper planes, rubbers and general disruption seems so ordinary and bland. We sure would have upped our game if we had seen this back in the 80’s
So intrigued by that film title name of Unman, Wittering and Zigo, I had no idea what it meant until I watched it. It happens to be the last three names on the school register for the class of Lower 5B, a boys boarding school in a remote English coastline village.
Wishing to start well in his new profession of teaching and make a good impression is John Ebony, played by David Hemmings (Blow-up, Barbarella), a man on a mission to teach. Hoping to excel in his first post and make a permanent position at the prestigious school. With his wife Silvia, (Carolyn Seymour – Gumshoe) they move into one of the schools houses on the grounds.
Now what our hero didn’t know is the fact he is filling in someone shoes, a dead man shoes. Because the last teacher had had an unexpected fall from the cliff edge to his demise and John is here to replace him.
He is given the unfortunate class of Lower 5B. A group of rich kids, rogues and juvenile delinquents. Some are intelligent, wishing to work, some are bullied and others are just plain thugs. One thing all these 20 odd boys have in common is they work like a collective hive mind, like legion. Starting and finishing each others sentences, with one goal, to destroy their teacher.
Cloistermouth – And that’s why we killed him, sir.
Making no secret of the fact they may of killed the old lecturer, they toy with John, breaking him down, using him to do their deeds. Until he fights back and tries to stop this horde of blazer wearing reprobates, unfortunately escalating matters to a very upsetting climax.
This is a very effective thriller which draws you into the unsettling story well, most notably the gymnasium scene that is very dark, twisted and shocking.
Excellent performances from all the talented cast. I did think Carolyn Seymour’s portray of Silvia as a wonderfully feisty and sexy free spirited lady, raising the temperatures of the boys to popping point with her legs, steals the show.
Directed by John Mackenzie who made the classic British gangster film with Bob Hoskins, The Long Good Friday. The film is based on a 1958 radio drama of the same name.
If you can I very much recommend tracking this possibly forgotten gem down. Like Grange Hill on steroids. Keep safe… Wolfie
Random fact – I’ve read it was parodied by Rowan Atkinson in his sketch as the headmaster reading out the register on stage at the Amnesty International comedy and music fundraiser The Secret Policeman’s Ball in the 80’s. I so remember watching it but had never realised the connection until now.
Further Reading Links