The Wild and the Willing

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The Wild and the Willing
"The Wild and the Willing" (1962).jpg
Directed by Ralph Thomas
Produced by Betty E. Box
Earl St. John
Written by Nicholas Phipps
Mordecai Richler
Based on play "The Tinker" by Laurence Doble and Robert Sloman
Starring Virginia Maskell
Paul Rogers
Ian McShane
Samantha Eggar
John Hurt
Music by Norrie Paramor
Cinematography Ernest Steward
Edited by Alfred Roome
Betty E. Box-Ralph Thomas Productions
Rank Organisation
Distributed by J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors (UK)
Release dates
16 October 1962 (London) (UK)
Running time
110 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Wild and the Willing is a 1962 British romantic drama film directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Virginia Maskell, Paul Rogers, Ian McShane, Samantha Eggar and John Hurt.[1][2] It marked the film debuts of 20-year-old McShane and 22-year-old Hurt.[3] It depicts a group of students at university.

It was filmed on location in Lincoln, with Lincoln castle doubling as the university.

Plot summary[edit]

A group of young men at university go through the students' life – dancing, drinking, meeting girls. Harry (Ian McShane) is a rather rebellious young man, going out with Josie (Samantha Eggar). His room mate is Phil (John Hurt), a quiet outsider. Harry feels very protective of Phil for some reason. Phil loves Sarah (Katherine Woodville), who jilted him for another more suitable boyfriend.

As the plot develops, Harry gets involved with Professor Chown's (Paul Rogers) unhappy wife, Virginia (Virginia Maskell). The professor acts very aloof towards her and doesn't want to divorce her because he is expecting to be knighted. Harry wants Virginia to come away with him, but she is too worried about her future and turns him down. Out of frustration Harry wants to pull a Rag Week stunt, climb the campus tower at night and raise a flag atop of it. He needs help to pull this off but all the other young men opt out for various reasons. Phil offers to join Harry, as he feels that Harry has done a lot to involve him into campus life, rather than living on the fringes. At first, Harry, worried about the consequences as Phil is not a good climber, refuses to take Phil along with him, but eventually, against his better judgment, he is persuaded to do so.

Gilby (Jeremy Brett), a smart striver is jealous of Harry, as he used to see Virginia before she rejected him. He notices the activities around the tower and reports Harry and Phil to the university authorities. The teachers are more annoyed than worried and call the fire brigade. The spectacle draws a crowd. Although Phil is a bad climber and is slipping several times, the two young men manage to reach the top and hoist their flag. But on the way down Phil loses his footing and, although Harry tries desperately to hold on to him, Phil slips from his grasp and falls to his death.

For being directly responsible for his friend's death, Harry is 'sent down' and expelled from the university. He makes one more visit to see Professor Chown and Virginia where the Professor admits that Harry's paper was brilliant and that with his stunt, he has forfeited a scholarship and an academic career. Josie meets Harry at the bus station and realises that she doesn't mean much to him. Yet she asks him to take her along, but he refuses, as he doesn't want to go on hurting people. The film ends with Reggie (John Sekka), an African friend, singing a ballad of Harry and Josie's life.


Critical reception[edit]

In the Radio Times, David McGillivray wrote, "an unsuccessful play, The Tinker - written when Angry Young Men were in vogue - is the source of this exposé of British student life. Once shocking, it has aged as badly as others of its ilk, but now has considerable curiosity value, not least because of early appearances by Ian McShane, Samantha Eggar, John Hurt and others. McShane shines as the scholarship boy who vents his wrath on privileged society";[4] while BFI Screenonline referred to the film as "Ralph Thomas's tepid student drama";[5] but Sky Movies concluded the film "still manages to generate moments of high excitement - none more so than a climatic climb up the sheer side of a crumbling steeple - a few minutes that are guaranteed to have you on the edge of your chair."[6]


  1. ^ "Young and Willing (1962)". IMDb. 30 August 1963. 
  2. ^ "The Wild and the Willing". BFI. 
  3. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (16 March 2013). "Ian McShane: rogue trader". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Wild and the Willing". RadioTimes. 
  5. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Hurt, John (1940-) Biography". 
  6. ^ Wild And The Willing|publisher

External links[edit]