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School Corporal Punishment in Films

April 28 2003 at 6:35 PM

A useful addition to the archives would be a catalogue of mainstream cinema films which feature school corporal punishment.

‘The Guinea Pig’ from 1948, starring the twenty-five year old Dickie as a schoolboy, has been mentioned in another thread.

Does anyone know of others?

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Re: School Corporal Punishment in Films

April 28 2003, 7:25 PM 

In ‘Young Winston’ (1972) the marks from a caning on the Churchill bum by his headmaster are shown in the uncensored version. I cannot remember if the actual beating is seen.

The film was directed by dear, dear Dickie.


Re: Re: School Corporal Punishment in Films

April 28 2003, 9:54 PM 

In ‘Melody’ a.k.a. ‘S.W.A.L.K.’ (1971) two boys are slippered by their headmaster.

‘The Happy Valley’ (1989) has some memorable F/f. I think this could qualify as ‘school corporal punishment’, for the ‘F’ is the governess/tutor of the ‘f’.


Re: Re: Re: School Corporal Punishment in Films

April 28 2003, 11:12 PM 

The brutal – ‘If’ made in the late sixties and

The comic - ‘Bottoms Up!’ starring Jimmy Edwards in 1960.


Re: Re: Re: Re: School Corporal Punishment in Films

April 29 2003, 7:34 AM 

F/f in a school environment is rare. The Spanking Facts and Research site has
‘Brides of Christ’ (Australia 1985)

C. Nickel

"Brides of Christ"

April 29 2003, 8:10 AM 

See the video clip at:

(it's on the bottom left of the page)


Re: "Brides of Christ"

April 29 2003, 7:05 PM 

I trust that those who have criticised C. Nickel will now feel ashamed.

C. Nickel is a great asset to this forum and taking the trouble to provide a link to a rare piece of F/f fladge is just one of the many kindnesses he/she has shown to members.


young winston

April 30 2003, 9:44 PM 

You see the school assembled in the library and individual boys called into an adjoining room to be caned on the bare bottom. The one caning of which the viewer gets a glimpse is not in fact the Churchill one but the previous boy. You see him bending over with his trousers down and then the door is closed just as the cane is placed across his buttocks.
The scene is based on Churchill's account in "My Early Life" of his prep school, not named in the book but in fact St George's, Ascot. The headmaster, played in the film by Robert Hardy, was the Rev. Herbert Sneyd-Kynnersley and in real life the instrument used was the birch. Churchill described boys being "flogged until they bled freely". Virginia Woolf's biography of Roger Fry, who was at the school shortly before Churchill (c.1880), gives a much more explicit and rather disgusting account, quoted in Ian Gibson's silly book "The English Vice". From the lines given to Robert Hardy to speak, one deduces that the scriptwriters for the film drew substantially on the Roger Fry account. All in all, I think we can say that Rev. Sneyd-Kynnersley was the sort of headmaster who gave corporal punishment a bad name.


british films

April 30 2003, 9:49 PM 

There was also a film called "Spare the Rod" (1961) starring Max Bygraves as a teacher in a rough East End of London school. This film never seems to be on the telly and consequently I've never seen it.


Re: british films

April 30 2003, 10:11 PM 

Thank you, Squirrel, for supplying the information about the Churchill film that I did not have.

It is always good to hear from you. Your messages make a refreshing change from the nonsense that we are usually subjected to.

Made a year after the Max Bygraves film, is ‘Term of Trial’ in which dear, dear Larry canes a boy on the hand.


Re: Re: british films

May 2 2003, 4:27 PM 

Not cinema but TV, I recall "The School Play" by Frederic Raphael shown some 20 years ago. It's one of the genre where adult actors play children and features a very formal public school thrashing carried out by a prefect (played by a middle-aged actor - Jeremy Kemp?) on a "boy" (played by an actor in his 20s).

The film "Lady Jane" is cited as a good example of F/f CP with the young Lady Jane Grey (H Bonham-Carter) being birched by her mother. I haven't seen it though.

"Happy Valley" also has a scene of F/f hand caning in a school setting. There's also an extremely unpleasant and graphic scene where the much-punished heroine is assaulted with a whip by her father.


School CP On Television

May 2 2003, 7:40 PM 

I have seen Spare the Rod on television several times, although probably not in the past 30 years. It might pop up on one the dedicated film channels, so it is worth keeping an eye out.
Back in the days of grainy black and white, early 1960’s,TV I remember an episode of Dr Finlay’s Casebook, (ask your Grandparents), where the Doctor visited a girls boarding school and entered a classroom where the school mistress was giving a girl the tawse on her hands. The series was set in Scotland. I also remember a BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre from the same time where the story opened with Jane being caned on her hands at school by Mr Brocklebank, rather than sticking to Charlotte Bronte’s original.
More recently in the 1980’s Dennis Potters Singing Detective had a very severe cane-wielding schoolmistress in it. I do not remember any of the pupils being caned, but she walked around the class, cane in hand. From the same period I recall a play where adults played all the children’s parts, I think Colin Welland played one of the roles, and several of the boys and one of the girls were caned at school.
From the late 1970’s there was the famous Grange Hill caning. Headmistress Mrs McCluskey, (Bridget the Midget) caned Cathy Hargreaves, on her hand, for playing truant.
Not quite school CP but in an episode of the truly awful Nanny series, set in the 19030’s staring Wendy Craig, she worked as Nanny in a house where the Governess regularly caned the older girls on their hands. Wendy, of course, came to the rescue and drove her out.
Another school CP classic that pops up on TV every now and then is the film Kess, where the Headmaster canes a group of boys.

C. Nickel

Re: School CP On Television

May 2 2003, 7:59 PM 

"From the same period I recall a play where adults played all the children’s parts, I think Colin Welland played one of the roles."

That would be 'Blue Remembered Hills' by the late - and very very great - Dennis Potter.

First broadcast on 30 January 1979 on BBC1, repeated on 30 May 1980 on BBC1 and on 19 May 1991 on Channel 4, it won the 1980 BAFTA TV Award for Best Single Play.


Absolutely wonderful.

C. Nickel

Re: School Corporal Punishment in Films

May 2 2003, 8:16 PM 

1982 British film 'The Wall' shows state school beatings. Directed by Alan Parker, it includes the memorable anti-authority anthem 'We don't want no education.' The regimented ranks of automaton-like pupils and graphic school beatings depicted would appear to justify the song's repeated call for teachers to 'leave those kids alone'.

1971 British film 'Melody' shows two schoolboys slippered by the headmaster. It featuring Mark Lester and Jack Wild (who had come to fame together in the Oscar winning musical, 'Oliver') as two London schoolboys. They are each given six of the best with the slipper by the genial tea drinking headmaster for various failings in their schoolwork and chirpy Jack Wild sails through the ordeal with aplomb, having carefully padded his backside beforehand. However, young Mark Lester's attempt to trick the head in the same fashion is discovered, and once the padding has been removed he is given six hard whacks, much to his consternation.

1938 British film 'Housemaster' is set in a public school and features a caning scene right at the beginning when the housemaster of the title, played by Otto Kruger, is seen chastising a pupil. The film is based upon the novel by Ian Hay, first published in 1936.

1969 British film 'Kes' shows a group of boys receiving hand canings. The film includes scenes set in a tough city comprehensive school in the north of England. A group of boys are caned on both hands for smoking. The line-up includes an innocent first-former who has been sent to the headmaster with a message and is forced by the older boys to secrete their contraband cigarettes and matches in his trouser pockets. When all the assembled boys are told to empty their pockets the pathetic junior, who is too shy to speak up to the overbearing headmaster, is deemed to be an illicit smoker and is caned along with the guilty pupils - much to his distress.

1942 film 'A Yank at Eton' shows Mickey Rooney receiving a prefect's tanning. He plays a rebellious all-American kid who is sent to Eton College for an English public school education. To begin with, Mickey greatly dislikes the famous school, with its peculiar uniforms, arrogant prefects and tedious fagging. Early on in the movie, a practical joke which misfires results in a caning from senior boy Peter Lawford.


films & TV

May 2 2003, 9:44 PM 

Well done C.Nickel.
"Yank at Eton" was not perhaps one of Mickey Rooney's best efforts. I think it was meant as wartime propaganda - how USA and UK think they don't like each other much, but turn out to be on the same side really, when push comes to shove. Highly allegorical for 1942, you see. Thus, Rooney first appears to the Brits as a vulgar, bragging loudmouth (sound familiar?) but is revealed in the end to be quite a decent chap. He for his part is most reluctant to leave his American school, a smart, ivy-leaf-bedecked establishment called Notre Dame (pron. Nohtre Daym) to be sent to what he imagines - with some justification, one might suppose - to be a nest of arrogant, snobby poofters. But after a few sound thrashings and a few goes at the Eton Wall Game he realises that those goddam Limeys are made of tougher stuff than he realised.
To me the most striking thing about this completely preposterous farrago of nonsense is that, typically I think for film-makers on both sides of the Atlantic in those days, it doesn't seem to have occurred to its originators that 99% of the US audience and 99% of the UK audience would have regarded both these posh schools and their inmates as being on another planet altogether from anything they could possibly relate to.


Re: Films and TV

May 2 2003, 10:02 PM 

On the public school theme, there's an old black and white version of "Goodbye, Mr Chips" that features the caning of a boy who has dared to suggest that some of the masters ought to be in the armed forces in WW1. Can't remember any of the cast though.


goodbye mr chips

May 2 2003, 10:12 PM 

Mr Chips is played in the 1939 version by Robert Donat. The caning scene is done in silhouette.
By the way, there was recently a new TV version of this story. I missed it, but I'm told that Mr Chips was turned into a campaigner against c.p.! As far as I know, this is a travesty of the original book by James Hilton.


Chips with everything

May 2 2003, 10:22 PM 

I think this must be the version starring Robert Donat and Greer Garson. Robert Donat gave a masterful performance as Mr Chipping and it is, arguably, one of his best ever performances. This film has the lot, if you want a real treat see it soon.


C. Nickel

Re: Re: Films and TV

May 2 2003, 10:23 PM 

"Goodbye, Mr Chips" (1939) starred Robert Donat as the eponymous academic.

When a pupil calls the masters at the school "a lot of weak-kneed women - they're not in the army because they're not fit to be, or too old, or too frightened. They're getting back on us by being tough and being tyrants," Chips (shown in an enlarged shadow) canes the boy and then lectures:

"It didn't amuse me to do that, Burton. Very soon now, you'll be an officer in France. You'll need discipline from your men and to get that you must know what discipline means. Now you despise the masters here because they're not young enough or strong enough to fight. You might like to know that every one of them has done his best to join the army. We take no man unless he has done that. I'm headmaster now simply because every man fit to be headmaster is fighting in France. I'm a war-time fluke - a temporary officer risen from the ranks. But I'm going to keep Brookfield together til the war's over."

Donat won an oscar for his performance - in a year of unprecedented competition (e.g. Clark Gable's Rhett Butler).


Australia and China

May 3 2003, 3:45 AM 

The OZ movie: 'Flirting' (1990) opens with a caning in the housemaster's study. In the dormitory afterwards the boys carefully inspect each others weals with the aid of a flashlight. A young Nicole Kidman stars.

From China, 'Farewell My Concubine' (1993). Several bare bottom thrashings. One of the boys returns as an adult and submits to a thrashing. Most unusual movie which offers a glimpse of a culture foreign to most of us.

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