If....


1h 52m 1969

Brief Synopsis

In an inditement of the British Boys School, we follow Mick and his mostly younger friends through a series of indignities and occasionally abuse as any fond feelings toward these schools are destroyed. When Mick and his friends rebel, violently, the catch phrase, "which side would you be on" becomes quite stark.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Mar 1969
Production Company
Memorial Enterprises, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White, Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Synopsis

As winter term begins at the College House boarding school for boys, students settle themselves into assigned dormitory rooms. House prefects ("Whips") quickly assert their puritanical authority by subjecting the new arrivals to humiliating rituals. Although this tyrannical behavior is accepted by the administration as part of school tradition, some students refuse to yield to the system. Mick Travers, a nonconformist upperclassman, covers his wall with magazine photos and maintains that "violence and revolution are the only pure acts"; his two rebellious companions are Johnny and Wallace, the latter a superb gymnast desired by some of the school's homosexual students. During a rugby match, Mick and Johnny sneak away to town, steal a motorcycle, and spend the afternoon with a young waitress. When they return to school, the Head of House, Rowntree, punishes them for their disrespect by flogging them brutally in the gymnasium. Now provoked into open rebellion, Mick shoots and bayonets the chaplain during a field exercise, but the headmaster conceals his displeasure and offers the boys a chance to redeem themselves by clearing away junk that has accumulated under the stage of the College Hall. They find a pile of arms and ammunition in the rubble and store them until "Speech Day" arrives; then, as alumnus General Denson addresses a hall filled with faculty, students, and visiting guests, the rebels set a fire under the floor boards. As the audience pours out into the quad, Mick and his allies, including the waitress, greet them with a hail of fire from the roof; when the headmaster steps forward shouting "trust me," the girl shoots him through the head. General Denson leads a counter-attack as Mick and his friends continue firing.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Mar 1969
Production Company
Memorial Enterprises, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White, Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Quotes

One man can change the world with a bullet in the right place.
- Mick Travis

Trivia

The apparently haphazard switching between black and white and color footage in the film is not for any particular artistic reason on Lindsay Anderson's part, but for monetary reasons. Anderson shot the film out of sequence, and by the time he reached the end of shooting, he had gone over budget. To save money, the rest of the scenes were shot with cheaper black and white stock.

The film was shot at director Lindsay Anderson's actual old school in Cheltenham, England.

Although the film was shot at Cheltenham College, the script "Crusaders" was based on the authors' old school Tonbridge School. Tonbridge was the original choice for the outdoor shots, but the school declined believing it would bring bad publicity. All-boys boarding schools were receiving quite unfavourable press at the time, which might explain Tonbridge's decision.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Gloucestershire and London. Opened in London December 1968. Initially rated "X," Paramount deleted the objectionable frames, and the film was rerated "R."

Miscellaneous Notes

The United Kingdom

Winner of the Palme d'Or for Best Film at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.

Voted One of Ten Best Films by the New York Times Critics for 1969.

Released in United States Winter December 1968

Re-released in United States January 12, 2001

Released in United States 2000

Music extract "Sanctus" from the "Missa Luba".

Re-released in United Kingdom March 1, 2002.

Released in United States Winter December 1968

Re-released in United States January 12, 2001 (Film Forum; New York City)

Released in United States 2000 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "The British New Wave: From Angry Young Men to Swinging London" October 27 - November 16, 2000.)