My Boy Jack (film)

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My Boy Jack
My Boy Jack.jpg
DVD cover
Based onMy Boy Jack
by David Haig
Written byDavid Haig
Directed byBrian Kirk
StarringDavid Haig
Daniel Radcliffe
Kim Cattrall
Carey Mulligan
Julian Wadham
Music byAdrian Johnston
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Michael Casey
CinematographyDavid Odd, B.S.C.
Editor(s)Tim Murrell
Running time93 minutes
DistributorITV1 (UK)
Original release
  • 11 November 2007 (2007-11-11)

My Boy Jack is a 2007 British biographical television film based on David Haig's 1997 play of the same name[1] for ITV. It was filmed in August 2007, with Haig as Rudyard Kipling and Daniel Radcliffe as John Kipling.[2] It does not include act three of the play, which extended to the 1920s and 1930s: instead it ends with Kipling reciting the poem "My Boy Jack". The American television premiere was on 20 April 2008 on PBS, with primetime rebroadcast on 27 March 2011.[3] The film attracted about 5.7 million viewers on its original ITV broadcast in the UK on Remembrance Day, 11 November 2007.[4]


My Boy Jack is based on the 1997 play by English actor David Haig. It tells the story of Rudyard Kipling and his grief for his son, John, who died in the First World War. The title comes from Kipling's poem of the same name.[5]

The theatre piece played at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, in 2004. It then toured Oxford, Richmond, Brighton, Norwich, Cardiff and Cambridge, with the newly formed Haig Lang Productions.[6] In America, My Boy Jack has been performed under the title My Son Jack.[7]


As the Great War (World War I) begins, 17-year-old Jack Kipling (Daniel Radcliffe), the only son of the famous English writer and poet Rudyard Kipling, declares his intention to join the Royal Navy to fight against the Germans. The elder Kipling (Haig), who encourages him in his ambition, arranges several appointments for him to enlist in both the Army and Navy. However, when Jack's poor eyesight prevents him from passing the medical examinations, both he and his father are devastated. Determined, Rudyard uses his influence with the military establishment to eventually secure Jack an officer's commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Irish Guards.

Jack's mother Carrie (Cattrall) and his sister Elsie (Carey Mulligan) disapprove of this post, as they do not wish for him to go to the war. Jack, who proves to be a popular officer with his troops, undergoes military training and travels to France within six months. On his 18th birthday, Jack receives orders to lead his platoon into action on the following morning. During the Battle of Loos, Jack is posted missing in action and the Kipling family is informed by telegram. For three years, Jack's parents track down and interview surviving members of his platoon. One eventually confirms that Jack was killed in the Battle of Loos, shot by enemy gunfire, after losing his glasses in the mud during an assault on a German machine-gun post.



Filmed on location in Counties Laois and Kildare, Ireland with one scene in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin. Exterior scenes for film were shot at Bateman's, the 17th-century house that was Kipling's home from 1902 to his death in 1936, which is now a National Trust property.[8][9]


Reviews of the film were generally positive. The aggregate Metacritic score was 78/100, with positive reviews from Entertainment Weekly, the Boston Globe, Variety, the Orlando Sentinel, the New York Post, The Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune, and with more negative reviews from Philadelphia Daily News, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.[10] Several reviews took note of Daniel Radcliffe's starring role as Jack.[11][12][13][14] Both Radcliffe and Haig were generally well-received,[15] though Kim Cattrall received mixed reviews for her performance as Jack's mother.[3][14][16][17]


It won Silver Magnolia Award for Best Television Film at the 14th Shanghai Television Festival in China.


  1. ^ "Period Drama / About the drama - ITV Drama:". ITV. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  2. ^ "Masterpiece – My Boy Jack". PBS. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  3. ^ a b Bellafante, Ginia (18 April 2008). "A Different Kind of Kipling Adventure q". The New York Times. p. E1. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  4. ^ Tryhorn, Chris (12 November 2007). "ITV war drama recruits 5.7m viewers". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  5. ^ kipling my boy jack Archived 5 March 2002 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The British Theatre Guide : Reviews - My Boy Jack (Theatre Royal, Nottingham, and touring Archived 7 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ My Son Jack , a CurtainUp Los Angeles review
  8. ^ "Masterpiece: My Boy Jack". Cast, Production Credits, Web Credits. PBS. 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  9. ^ "David Haig on My Boy Jack". Memorable TV. 6 June 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2013.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "My Boy Jack reviews at". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 13 June 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  11. ^ "TV War Role for Potter Star". London Evening Standard. London, England. 29 August 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  12. ^ Lowry, Brian (11 April 2008). "My Boy Jack Review". Variety. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  13. ^ Buckman, Adam (17 April 2008). "Harry Goes to War". New York Post. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  14. ^ a b Wiegand, David (19 April 2008). "Son goes to war in 'My Boy Jack'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  15. ^ Flynn, Gillian (11 April 2008). "My Boy Jack". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  16. ^ Vittes, Laurence (18 April 2008). "My Boy Jack". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 20 June 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  17. ^ Ryan, Maureen (17 April 2008). "Thoughts on the British Empire, both tragic and comic". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 August 2009.

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