Dir: Gerald Thomas
Star: Ted Ray, Kenneth Connor, Leslie Phillips, Richard O’Sullivan
The third film in the series was the first one which was cut from wholly original cloth, and the results work nicely. In a big step forward, there’s a genuine story here, with characters that seem to have been written specifically for the actors. The plot concerns Mr. Wakefield (Ray), headmaster of Maudlin Street school – he plans to leave for a new post, but has to get past a week-long visit from a school inspector and a psychology researcher (Phillips). However, the pupils get wind of this and prepare to wreak havoc for the visitors, climaxing at the school production of Romeo and Juliet [O’Sullivan, later to achieve fame in Man About The House, plays the young ringleader who instigates the chaos]
It’s remarkably warm-hearted, despite frequent references to corporal punishment which, even if never inflicted, may seem barbaric in these enlightened days. [Though it never hurt me ;-)] Also, the sequence where the pupils convince the teachers they’re going to blow up the school is creepy, not funny, thanks to Columbine – albeit that’s hardly the film’s fault. However, in general, it’s solidly amusing, with perhaps the highlight being “Question Time” where Kenneth Williams’ English teacher is harassed to his wits’ end by the class regarding Romeo and Juliet, and why a “school’s edition” is necessary. However, all the cast get their moments of glory, and provide a strong ensemble performance. Because of contract issues, this was the only film in which Ray would appear; while he’s very good here, the loss immediately became perhaps the series’ biggest strength.