A lost England and movie spankings of the 1930s

05May10

Been trying to track down the back-story and details of a late 1920s or early 1930s play that was later made into a movie.

The problem is that not knowing the name of the play, the search throws a tantalising array of possibilities on the obvious keywords. This suggests that the London stage in the 1930s was chocked full of spanking fun.

Also a common theme seemed to be young adult women staying with their respectable old uncles and coming into conflict over notions about ‘the modern age.’

The play itself is no doubt lost and never to be revived on any modern stage, its message and concerns forever anchored in its time. The movie, made around the early mid 30s, sometimes used to get an airing on afternoon TV in the UK, despite its, to a modern audience, racy themes. But since it touches incidentally on the corporal punishment of school children, it is likely to be seen less in the future.

The really interesting aspect is that the original stage play was supposed to be more graphic, hence the interest here.

In case it rings any bells out there here is a brief synopsis as far as memory serves.

Three girls, one sensible and over 21, one a flighty late teen, played by a 20 something actress, and a mid teen girl go to stay with their uncle, the headmaster of a the girls’ uncle’s school.

Early on we find that the youngest girl has a twin brother at the school. This is established close to the opening scene when they meet by chance outside the head’s study, out of bounds for her, and her brother warns her that if she were a boy she would ‘suffer consequences’.

She is very interested in this and they discuss his recent caning and she begs to see the marks. He declines and returns to school never to be seen again in our story.

Then a complicated story ensues. The older girl gets embroiled in an ‘I love you but I am going to pretend I hate you’ conflict with a young man in the village. The point of tension is a conflict between the village and the school, where they are on opposite sides.

The younger girls meanwhile get to chasing schoolboys and trying to egg them on into mischief.

During the course of this, the older sister recruits her younger siblings, the girls anyway, to further her cause in the village. They set about recruiting the schoolboys in this plan. All the actors are adults; only the youngest girl looks remotely like she might be a teenager.

Of course, in typical English style, it is all a big misunderstanding and the Headmaster, it transpires, only has the best interests of the village at heart. The schoolboys forsake any serious misdemeanours in the name of honour and agree to take the blame for the three sisters.

At the point where the young men are about to be caned, the three sisters own up.

“If anyone should be thrashed it should be us.” Offers the middle girl.

“Steady on I wouldn’t go that far.” Protests the oldest girl.

“Is this true?” Demands the Headmaster after they explain.

With that, cane in hand he takes the youngest girl by the ear and leads her ‘off stage’.

“I will deal with you two presently.” He barks as a parting shot.

Leaving the two older girls chewing their lips and looking decidedly nervous.

The demeanour of the girls in the closing scene suggests that they have been ‘dealt with’ and they all ‘surrender’ to their men (and boys), realising that traditional values are best after all.

Needless to say that don’t make them like that anymore. However, the question of the week is: what was the name of the play and or movie?



3 Responses to “A lost England and movie spankings of the 1930s”

  1. ‘Professor’ James Edwards played a headmaster in Whack-O! as the name suggests lots of caning of male puplis, such care free days LOL

  2. 2 Karl Friedrich Gauss

    Attitudes to spanking are a good indicator of the cultural, societal and consciousness changes that have taken place over the course of the past century — to which your essay well attests!

  3. 3 Sir Isaac Newton

    Professor Gauss, what a pleasure to hear from you again.
    In my times strict methods of discipline have been used. Young adult women who were sent to me for correction knew what to expect. I had them spread their legs slightly, put an apple between their knees and told them not to drop it… unless they wanted the punishment to start from the beginning. They were bent over my desk and I used my cane as needed until the colour of their bottom matched that of the ripe apple between their legs. They were usually standing perfectly still.
    People still seem to connect my name to apples these days.

    Sir Isaac Newton


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