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Scum – 1979
The film they tried to ban! A brutal story of today.
Alan Clarke

Roy Minton

Davina Belling producer
Don Boyd executive producer
Martin Campbell associate producer
Clive Parsons producer
Michael Relph executive producer

Ray Winstone – Carlin
Mick Ford – Archer
Julian Firth – Davis
John Blundell – Banks
Phil Daniels – Richards
John Fowler – Woods
Ray Burdis – Eckersley
Patrick Murray – Dougan
Herbert Norville – Toyne
George Winter – Rhodes
Alrick Riley – Angel
Peter Francis – Baldy
Philip DaCosta – Jackson (as Philip Da Costa)
Alan Igbon – Meakin
Andrew Paul – Betts
Sean Chapman – James
Ozzie Stevens – Smith
Ricky Wales – Chambers
Peter Howell – Governor
John Judd – Mr Sands
Jo Kendall – Matron
John Grillo – Goodyear
Philip Jackson – Greaves
Bill Dean – Duke
P.H. Moriarty – Hunt
Nigel Humphreys – Taylor
James Donnelly – Whittle
Joe Fordham – Reg
Ray Jewers – Gym Instructor
Ian Liston – White
Charles Rayford – Philpott
John Rogan – Escort
Danny John-Jules – Extra (uncredited)
Michael Tarn – Extra (uncredited)

Review by Theo Robertson

Scum (1979)

Bleak , Brutal , But Nearly Brilliant,
SCUM was released in 1979 and was THE British film everyone was talking about that year. With the advent of the video recorder in the early 80s it was also the film all the angry young men (I.e. 15 year old boys) wanted to get their hands on and watch as many of them did. The film kept coming up in conversations I had with many of my peers in the early to mid 80s. Conversations would range from ” Did you see that bit where…? ” all the way through to the film’s agenda. But strangely I must have been the last angry young man in Britain to see it when it was shown as part of Channel 4 `s ” Banned ” season in 1991.

Without doubt the best thing about SCUM is Ray Winstone`s performance as the anti-hero Carlin. All the performances in the film are very good but Winstone really shines through, and it’s amazing that he didn’t become an almost star until the late 90s. True Ray Winstone basically plays a similar role in almost everything he appears in, but this is his first and best powerhouse performance. Phil Daniels is also worth mentioning as ” Stripey ” Richards. I bet there’s many an angry young man who stood at their bedroom mirror snarling ” Wot you f****** saying you f****** weirdo? You want f****** striping then do ya?

Strangely stardom seems to have just missed Daniels as well. Also look out for some familiar faces like the Cat from RED DWARF, Dave from THE BILL, Uncle Frank from HELLRAISER, that grumpy bloke from BROOKSIDE et al.

Roy Minton’s script is good except for one thing, the story reaches its natural conclusion when Carlin takes over the hall from Richards and Pongo and then the borstal from Baldy. The story should end there but it goes on for about another 25 -30 minutes. And the final part of SCUM features its most infamous scene – the rape.

Unless you’ve seen SCUM it’s difficult to describe how shocking and graphic it is. In films like SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, OZ, and SLEEPERS directors’ cutaway to avoid anything explicit, implying rape rather than showing. Director Alan Clark doesn’t imply anything, he shows it on screen in quite sickening detail. Even more sickening is the fact that a guard secretly watches the gang rape! It truly is a disturbing scene as is the victim’s suicide, but since the plot ended about two thirds of the way through the film I can’t help thinking it was all so unnecessary and was put in as a sensationalist note in order to court controversy.

If that’s the case – And I fear it is – then SCUM should be described as a very good low budget drama instead of a masterpiece

Scum (1979)

Review by Wayne Malin

I saw this about 10 years ago at a Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and have never forgotten it.

It’s an extremely depressing and disturbing look at a British boys prison. It’s a bunch of stories concentrating on various characters and situations.

Graphic and disturbing. Not for everybody. Also good luck with the STRONG British accents.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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