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Scum (1979)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  28 September 1979 (UK)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 6,219 users  
Reviews: 83 user | 34 critic

This is the hard and shocking story of life in a British Borstal for young offenders. Luckily the regime has changed since this film was made. The brutal regime made no attempt to reform or... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Mick Ford ...
Julian Firth ...
Davis
John Blundell ...
...
John Judd ...
...
Peter Howell ...
Governor
John Grillo ...
Ray Burdis ...
Alan Igbon ...
Meakin
John Fowler ...
Bill Dean ...
Duke
...
Hunt
Nigel Humphreys ...
Taylor
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Storyline

This is the hard and shocking story of life in a British Borstal for young offenders. Luckily the regime has changed since this film was made. The brutal regime made no attempt to reform or improve the inmates and actively encouraged a power struggle between the 'tough' new inmate and the 'old hands'. The film was originally made as a BBC play but it was banned before ever being shown. So 'Alan Clarke' and 'Roy Minton' got it re-made as a film. This is a tough and brutal film and should not be viewed lightly. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A brutal story - the uncut, uncensored version See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 September 1979 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Escoria  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

£250,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The later British prison film Scrubbers (1982), made and released a few year's later, and set in a female British borstal, has widely been considered to be a female version of Scum (1979). Scrubbers (1982) was inspired by the success of Scum (1979) which had been made and released years about three years earlier. Whereas Scum (1979) had male inmates, Scrubbers (1982) instead featured female jailbirds. The two movies are considered companion pieces, Scrubbers (1982) even being referred to as a sequel of sorts to Scum (1979). The two films share a number of same and similar story elements common to both movies. See more »

Goofs

All Borstal inmates were subject to the same mandatory haircut of short back and sides, yet a vast array of hairstyles are shown throughout the film, including afros. See more »

Quotes

[Mr Sands discovers Angel's room is a mess shortly after Angel's beating]
Mr Sands: What's this then? On your feet, lad! What do you think this is? Stand up! Name and number?
[Angel stands up slowly]
Angel: Angel, sir.
Mr Sands: Number?
Angel: Can't remember, sir.
Mr Sands: Can't remember? Your number, lad, that's all you are, a number! A number! Four digits. That's all you are! 4736! Name and number?
Angel: 4736, Angel, sir.
Mr Sands: Who did this?
Angel: What, sir?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Scum EPK Interviews with Clive Parsons & Roy Minton (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Robertson's Marmalade Jingle
(uncredited)
Music by John Kongos
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Mecca, Archer?
11 June 2005 | by (Somewhere in England) – See all my reviews

The grandaddy of 'incarceration' films - this is one of the best, oft copied but never bettered.

I liked it because it's so damn British. The one liners are legion; you all know what they are and where, but among a stellar list 'Mecca, Archer' rises just above and never fails to have me in fits. The way Goodyear looks at the Governor just after this great outburst is also revealing; as is the look of satisfaction on Archer's face when he finally succeeds in riling the 'religious maniac'.

Of course, there's a serious message in here; expedited best in the conversation between Archer and Mr Duke over 'coffee'. Analysing the situation, as Archer attempts to do, will simply not be tolerated and is interpreted as dissent by a man who embodies the 'system' and is intellectually and emotionally unequipped to deal with his own, and the State's ultimate failure to deliver.

Like true class acts, this film works on several levels; it's a no nonsense drama bedecked with Taj Mahal one liners everyone loves, yet it also works on a deeper level; you cannot punitively 'correct' all offenders with violence and cruelty. You are not corrected, you are merely broken, as Davis and Toyne are. If you're not broken, you run amok, but the point is you're not 'cured'.

When this film was on TV in 1983, just after Channel Four started broadcasting, they edited the notorious potting shed sequence to such an extent that the heinous act committed was virtually excised, thereby diluting the dramatic effect to virtually zero. Interestingly enough, they also edited out the bit where Mr Greaves ignores Davis' second press of the bell. Why? Presumably because they feared the ire of the State at the highlighting of its inadequacies? I suppose they can be forgiven, Channel Four was new then after all, but it's quite revealing nonetheless.

If I'm home alone, I quote this film as I'm wandering around the house. I don't quite know why. It's all about the importance of individuality, standing up for yourself and not just 'accepting' things. That's probably the reason. Now, where's your tool?


23 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Who are the two screws at the beginning of the film firebird_1984
Whats so bad about rape scene? JackLondon2004
Did ITV4 ruin it? jiminy80
Anyone Actually Been In Borstal? Mr_Pink_2003
why did they rape him? red_dragon8089
Moral of the story? metalcj
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