Borstal Boy

Synopsis: Brendan Behan, a sixteen year-old republican, is going on a bombing mission from Ireland to Liverpool during the second world war. His mission is thwarted when he is apprehended, charged and imprisoned in Borstal, a reform institution for young offenders in East Anglia, England. At Borstal, Brendan is forced to live face-to-face with those he perceived as "the enemy," a confrontation that reveals a deep inner conflict in the young Brendan and forces a self-examination that is both traumatic and revealing. Events take an unexpected turn and Brendan is thrown into a complete spin. In the emotional vortex, he finally faces up to the truth.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Peter Sheridan
Production: Strand Releasing
  1 win & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
91 min

Form an orderly line, and have

your papers and identification ready.

Move along, please, and keep

to the left side.

Proceed immediately

to the customs hall, please.

Please have your baggage

ready for inspection.

I'm sure he's there.

Come here.

Where's your gun, you paddy bastard?


You'll hang for this.

You little shit.

All right then. Come on. In you go.

You're the Irish bloke

they were talking about.


Fucking hell

I'm Charlie Milwall.

I don't like fucking sailors.

I love your Irish accent, china.

Who were you bringing the stuff to?

I'm no informer.

Do you know what happens when we hang you?

You swing there at the end of a rope

with the biggest hardon you ever had,

only it's too late.

You're dead. You've never had any.

Ever been with a girl, Brendan?

You do like girls, don't you, Brendan?

Maybe he doesn't like girls.

No? What's he doing with this then, eh?

That's not mine.

We need to know your contact in this murder gang.

The IRA is not a murder gang.

Then why are they being hanged for murder?

They're dying for the country.

Condemned men on the way.

Up the republic.

We'll teach you how to behave.

You Irish shit house.

Paddy bastard.



You're all right mate?

They were - putting a rope around my neck.

It's just a dream mate.

Is all it is. It's just a dream.

I could feel it .

Just a bad dream, is all it is..

Just a bad dream, Brendan.

Your're gonna be allright china.

You will be allright.

You stay away from me! Do you hear?

No. No. No. You're spoiling this .

No. No. No. You stay away from me.

Stay away from me!

The girl said she was seventeen.

I'd no idea she was so young.

I'm very sorry, mylord.

Three years borstal.


Three sodding years. Bastards.


Apologize to the judge, agree to cooperate,

and you could be back home in Dublin by the end of the week.

Calling Brendan Behan.

You stand accused of the most heinous and vile conspiracy.

It would give me nothing but pleasure to don my black cap

and pronounce the severest sentence under the law.

I came here to fight for the Irish workers and small farmers republic.

I will not allow political speeches in my court!

Up the republic!

All right. All right. All right.

What did you get?

Are they going to hang you Irish or what?

I'm under age.

I got four years borstal.

All right you boys.

Come on, step lively.

? Safe journey?

Yes, sir. We have three civilians, for detention.


All right, boys. . Hands out of your pockets. Come on.

Lock him up.

Bet he's in for a rather unplesant time.

Gentlemen, there is not much point in escape.

There you go, Jock.

In the first place, it's so easy, there is no glory to it.

Second, the army are laying mine fields,

so it's jolly dangerous to be wandering about.

And third, the military is just up the road.

So, having caused everyone a great deal of bother,

You will be brought back.

So, don't sneak off without telling me.

I trust we shall have no further use of chains.

You are borstal boys now.

Are you the IRA boy?

Yes, sir.

Yes, I understand you had a rather rough time in Walton.

Well, that's all behind you now, so,

keep your nose clean and you will do fine.

Carry on chief!

Right you lads. Attention! Attention!

Quick march!


Do you feel like a kiddo boy?

You got that right.

Fellows, we got some new recruits.

Right chaps.

Just get your stuff organized beside the bed that you want.


I will have this one.

No, sir. That's my bed.




I'm in charge now. All right?

Hey, what's his story?

Polish Jew.

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Brendan Behan

Brendan Francis Aidan Behan (christened Francis Behan) ( BEE-ən; Irish: Breandán Ó Beacháin; 9 February 1923 – 20 March 1964) was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist and playwright who wrote in both English and Irish. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish writers of all time.An Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army, Behan was born in Dublin into a staunchly republican family becoming a member of the IRA's youth organisation Fianna Éireann at the age of fourteen. However, there was also a strong emphasis on Irish history and culture in the home, which meant he was steeped in literature and patriotic ballads from an early age. Behan eventually joined the IRA at sixteen, which led to his serving time in a borstal youth prison in the United Kingdom and he was also imprisoned in Ireland. During this time, he took it upon himself to study and he became a fluent speaker of the Irish language. Subsequently released from prison as part of a general amnesty given by the Fianna Fáil government in 1946, Behan moved between homes in Dublin, Kerry and Connemara, and also resided in Paris for a time. In 1954, Behan's first play The Quare Fellow, was produced in Dublin. It was well received; however, it was the 1956 production at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Stratford, London, that gained Behan a wider reputation. This was helped by a famous drunken interview on BBC television. In 1958, Behan's play in the Irish language An Giall had its debut at Dublin's Damer Theatre. Later, The Hostage, Behan's English-language adaptation of An Giall, met with great success internationally. Behan's autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was published the same year and became a worldwide best-seller and by 1955, Behan had married Beatrice ffrench Salkeld, with whom he later had a daughter Blanaid Behan in 1963. By the early 1960s, Behan reached the peak of his fame. He spent increasing amounts of time in New York, famously declaring, "To America, my new found land: The man that hates you hates the human race." By this point, Behan began spending time with people including Harpo Marx and Arthur Miller and was followed by a young Bob Dylan. He even turned down his invitation to the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. However this new found fame did nothing to aid his health or his work, with his medical condition continuing to deteriorate: Brendan Behan's New York and Confessions of an Irish Rebel received little praise. He briefly attempted to combat this by a sober stretch while staying at Chelsea Hotel in New York, but once again turned back to drink. Behan eventually died on 20 March 1964 at 41 years of age, when he collapsed at the Harbour Lights bar in Dublin. He was given a full IRA guard of honour, which escorted his coffin. It was described by several newspapers as the biggest Irish funeral of all time after Michael Collins and Charles Stewart Parnell. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Borstal Boy" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 20 Apr. 2021. <>.

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