The Wild and the Willing, adapted from The Tinker, a play by Laurence Dobie and Robert Sloman which didn’t make the grade in the West End, has nothing much new to say on its chosen theme – youth trying to find its place in society – the screenplay is lucid and the background of a provincial university authentic.
It concerns a brilliant young student from a poor working class family who is acutely class-conscious and rebels against the university, its professors and the opportunities they offer. He does not know where he is going and is arrogantly content to drift along raising Cain, drinking beer, playing football and pawing his girl friend, another student. He is a leading light in the university with a particular influence on his roommate, a shyer, more introspective lad.
Throughout there is a complete air of realism. The students, the professors and the townsfolk are real people about whose problems audiences will care. Ralph Thomas has directed with tact and has brought out some surprisingly sure performances from his inexperienced actors.
Ian McShane, with a broad Manchester accent, came straight from drama school to play this leading role. He is a virile, goodlooking young man with authority who is a real discovery, as is John Hurt, also a first timer, who plays his sensitive roommate.