Set in the 1980s in The History Boys, several boys at Cutlers’ Grammar School achieve the highest ever A-Level scores. The headmaster, Felix (Clive Merrison) recruits Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore), an Oxford graduate, to prepare the boys for entry into the best universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. He wants his candidates to stand out and offer a different approach.
The boy’s favourite teacher is Hector (Richard Griffiths) who teaches them General Studies, alongside Mrs Lintott (Frances De La Tour), the history teacher. Irwin’s teaching style is totally different from that of Hector and Mrs Lintott.
Hector often offers his students a ride home on his motorcycle where he fondles them. The boys have all agreed to laugh this off, although they are somewhat annoyed about it. When news of this reaches the headmaster, he insists that Hector retires early.
Following their interviews it appears that all boys have achieved a place at Oxbridge with the exception of the sporty Rudge (Russell Tovey) who later informs Mrs Lintott that he already has a place at Christ Church due to family connections.
The manipulative Dakin, reveals that he knows that Irwin lied about his past and tells the headmaster. He also blackmails the headmaster over his harassment to Fiona the school secretary in a bid to reinstate Hector.
“In The History Boys, as in all of Bennett’s work, irony is what the characters live and breathe – and I mean irony in its truest sense, of using language to present opposite and often sly alternatives to accepted wisdom.”
— Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun
“The screen, like the stage, can barely contain this marvellous play of intelligence.”
— Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“This is a piece engineered to run on the high octane of clever dialogue. It’s chatty, it’s wordy, but a passion for the well-written word lies at the thematic heart of the thing, and cinematic flourishes would only clog the arteries. Purists can rest assured — there’s no clogging. ”
— Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail Toronto
Did You Know?
The cast in the film are the same original cast that appeared in the stage play at the National Theatre in London. Most of the actors also feature in Gavin and Stacey. The film The History Boys is based on the award-winning play by Alan Bennet who also wrote the screenplay. Review our Gay Themed Films Here