Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

If... (1968)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

If... (1968, UK)

In director Lindsay Anderson's violent and controversial coming-of-age social drama about youth rebellion at a conformist public school in the UK (a symbolic microcosm of a repressive Establishment-oriented society) - it was considered a precursor of Stanley Kubrick's own controversial A Clockwork Orange (1971, UK):

  • the arrival of students at a British public school for the new school year, and the ever-present rivalry and bullying between the younger, lower-form boys (treated as and called "scum"), and the upper-form senior prefects (known as "Whips") who enforced discipline and took advantage of the junior boys by making them their slaves
  • the introduction of returning student Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell in his debut film role), a rebellious and anti-authoritarian character, called Guy Fawkes by one of the prefects ("It's Guy Fawkes back again"), who removed the black scarf on his face (hiding his mustache), spoke into the mirror: "My face is a never-failing source of wonder to me," and soon after was shaving off the illegal growth of hair
Mick's Mustache
Mick With Roommates
Cold Shower Punishment
  • Mick's off-handed, fatalistic quotes while speaking to his roommates: "The whole world will end very soon - black, brittle bodies peeling into ash...War is the last possible creative act....(looking at a side-profile of a nude pinup model in a magazine) Hello, sweetheart. There's only one thing you can do with a girl like this. Walk naked into the sea together as the sun sets. Make love once. Then die"
  • the scene of the punishment of Mick and his classmates for being "degenerate" - a two-minute cold shower [Note: the full-frontal male nudity was excised by censors]
The Homoerotic Gymnastics Scene
Between Wallace and Younger Bobby
  • the slow-motion, black and white homoerotic gymnastic scene with great sexual tension, when Wallace (Richard Warwick) flirtatiously and seductively grabbed the horizontal high bar and performed graceful rotational moves, at the same time that he knew that younger Bobby Philips (Rupert Webster), one of the 'prettier' boys, standing on the balcony above was pulling a sweater over his head, and watching him [Note: Later in the film was a view of the two males peacefully sleeping in the same bed together]
  • the Packhorse Cafe coffee-shop scene, after Mick and friend Wallace went joyriding on a stolen motorcycle during a truant day from school; there, Mick rudely flirted with an unnamed coffee-house waitress, the Girl (Christine Noonan), and she slapped him across the face for stealing a kiss; in a fantasy sequence, she came up behind him at the jukebox and animalistically taunted him: ("Go on, look at me. I'll kill you. Look at my eyes. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and my eyes get bigger and bigger. I'm like a tiger. I like tigers. Rrrrah!"); he contemplated kissing her, but was fearful of getting too close, during their ritualistic mating (using the metaphor of two tigers); their love-making was accompanied by growls, sniffs, clawing, swipes, hissing, and biting - suddenly, they appeared totally naked as they rolled around and wrestled each other on the floor
  • the protracted whipping corporal punishment scene in the gymnasium, after Mick (and his pals Wallace and Johnny Knightly (David Wood)) had continually been regarded as a "nuisance" because of their attitude by one of the "Whips" - the mean head of house Rowntree (Robert Swann): Mick's insult: "The thing I hate about you, Rowntree, is the way you give Coca-Cola to your scum, and your best teddy bear to Oxfam, and expect us to lick your frigid fingers for the rest of your frigid life"; in the gym, all three were caned - the last to suffer a brutal lashing was Mick, who was bent over a bar and whipped with ten strokes instead of the usual four for his comrades (most of Mick's whippings were off-screen, accentuated by the sounds of quickening steps and the slashing whip against his buttocks); as he left the room, Mick was required to shake Rowntree's hand and thank him: "Thank you, Rowntree”
  • Mick's contemplation of a retaliatory and brutal attack on all of his enemies, during a blood-brother oath ceremony with his two buddies, when they all cut themselves on the palm of their hands with a straight-edge razor and vowed: "Death to the oppressor. The resistance. Liberty. One man can change the world with a bullet in the right place. Real bullets
  • about three quarters of the way through the film, the sequence (a dream fantasy of the boys?) of the meek young wife of the House Master, Mrs. Kemp (Mary MacLeod), wandering down a hallway stark naked (seen in long-shot), and entering the empty washroom area where she was seen naked from a side-view; she fondled and caressed soap, towels and other objects the boys had carelessly strewn about [Note: it was reportedly the first instance of a full-frontal female nude passed by the British Board of Film Classification]
  • the Headmaster's (Peter Jeffrey) reprimanding speech to Mick, Johnny, and Wallace - offering them an opportunity and "privilege" to serve by performing work as punishment: "Now you boys are intelligent. You're too intelligent to be rebels. That's too easy. And it would be easy to punish you in the normal way. But I'm going to give you a privilege. Work. Real work. And I want you to think of this not as a punishment, but as an opportunity to give, to serve"
  • the boys' shocking discovery in the church's basement, while cleaning it, of a fully-developed fetus in a large jar, and a stock pile of armaments, weaponry and bombs
  • the violent, vengeful and bloody finale - an armed shoot-out and anarchistic attack by rebellious, revolting students (including the Girl), known as the Crusaders, from the rooftop of the school during Speech Day ceremonies; after the church was smoked out, the students opened fire with machine guns and explosions were set off; but then some in the crowd that were being fired upon acquired rifles and shot back, including the General, police officers, a mother, and some of the other students; when the Headmaster walked out into the open and called for a cease-fire, Mick's Girl coldly shot him between the eyes with a handgun while he pleaded: ("Boys, boys, I understand you. Listen to reason and trust me, trust me!")
  • the film's concluding "THE END" was substituted with "IF..."
Violent and Bloody Insurrection and Revolt

British Public School Hierarchy

Mick's Cafe Fantasy Scene With The Girl

Mick's Brutal Whipping

Blood-Brother's Oath Ceremony

Dream Fantasy of House Master's Wife Mrs. Kemp

The Headmaster's Reprimanding Speech

In Church Basement - The Discovery of Fetus in Jar and Weapons


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