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Scum (1979)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  28 September 1979 (UK)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 6,376 users  
Reviews: 83 user | 35 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 The film was originally made as a BBC play but it was banned before ever being shown.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:

The film they tried to ban! A brutal story of today. 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
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The later 2010 Canadian film Dog Pound (2010) is significantly inspired and influenced by this movie. See more »

Goofs

when Carlin enters the 'games' room for the first time he passes three lags playing snooker. the score board on the wall behind them changes between one score and another and then back and then back again. See more »

Quotes

Mr Sands: Carlin?
Carlin: Yes, sir?
Mr Sands: What happened to yer face, Carlin?
Carlin: I fell, sir.
Mr Sands: Where?
[Carlin tries to talk but Mr Sands interrupts him]
Mr Sands: Quiet! Speak when I tell you! Somebody hit you, eh? Answer, somebody hit you.
Carlin: No, sir.
Mr Sands: We know about you, sunny. Who was it?
Carlin: I fell sir. On the stairs. Wasn't used to the concrete steps. Me own fault.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Remade as Dog Pound (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Badly Bruised - Slightly Stowed
(uncredited)
Written by Colin Tucker
De Wolfe Music Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

 
On consent and violence
27 October 2004 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

In Britain circa 1980, there was a lot of hope placed by the new Conservative government in the recipe of the "short sharp shock" as the ideal way to deal with young offenders. This faith, of course, reflected a dream that the problems of society can be addressed through the fair application of discipline (and the illusion that discipline can ever be applied fairly). In the real world, prisons don't work. However much non-prisoners may be afraid of them, once inside, most become institutionalised and accustomed to their environments; of course they act as schools for crime; and treating people like animals is hardly likely to turn them into civilised humans. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that all power rests on a mixture of violence and consent, and the power of the prison officers is thus crucially dependent on their forming an alliance with the nastiest, most violent of prisoners. Welcome to the world of 'Scum'!.

The late Alan Clarke had a reputation for making television dramas of searing intensity. This background is apparent in 'Scum', which is directed in a flat, no-nonsense style. But it rings with horrific truth in a way that other prison dramas (like 'The Shawshank Redemption') do not: there's no redemption here, only the brutality of a nightmare world where everything civil has been lost. One typical detail is the recreation the officers arrange for the prisoners: basically just an organised fight, to release their energy and aggression in controlled circumstances. Clarke also had a reputation for discovering talent, and a young Ray Winstone made his name here, playing a "Daddy" only slightly less nasty than his predecessor. The sense of reality means the rape scene is still powerful, even in an age where such material is routinely handled much more explicitly.

'Scum' is powerful stuff, and a voice on behalf of the young and powerless (who continue to commit suicide in Britain's jails at an alarming rate). It also makes one think about the very nature of power (the way of governor remains personally "civilised", while presiding over his brutal staff, is truly telling). Recommended.


30 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
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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