An unruly collection of clever but crass Thatcher
-era English high-school students seek to earn the scores needed to enroll in Oxford and Cambridge in director Nicholas Hytner and screenwriter Alan Bennett's screen adaptation of Bennett's Tony-winning play. The History Boys
focuses on a group of eight students, all of them deemed by their overeager headmaster (Clive Merrison
) to be the best and the brightest. Though they've been coddled by their humanities-loving instructor, Hector (Richard Griffiths), and their acerbic history teacher, Mrs. Lintott (Frances de la Tour
), the boys are deemed in need of additional tutoring; thus, the brash, young Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore
) is recruited to challenge them further. The subtle power games the boys used to their advantage with their previous tutors are of no use with Irwin, whose wit borders on the callous. Meanwhile, Irwin's presence -- and a hush-hush scandal -- forces all of the faculty members to reassess their position at the school. Hytner shot The History Boys
shortly after the play's Broadway run, to capitalize on the enthusiasm and energy exhibited in the live shows.