The film digs deeply into the venerated psyche of the boys boarding school and its inevitable homoerotic associations, not to mention that the writer is exorcising a good deal of clearly personal venom about Catholicism. The film never quite leaves the staginess of its play origins however and the middle drags somewhat. Sidney Lumet directs with occasionally subtle facial closeups, although his set-ups are often choppily edited. That said, the story twists and turns through all types of interesting Sadean diversions and is rather captivating. James Masons pathetic tortured performance, fighting for his meagre standing, is particularly standout.
The Catholic boys boarding school psycho-thriller was later dealt with in the also interesting Absolution (1981), while also of interest are the boys boarding school psycho-thrillers Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971) and Like Minds (2006).
The script is based on a 1970 Tony Award-winning play by playwright and occasional horror writer Robert Marasco. Marasco is best known as the author of the book that became the film Burnt Offerings (1976).
This Child's Play is unrelated and should not be confused with the later horror film of the same title, Childs Play (1988) and sequels, about a possessed doll.
Clip from the film here:-