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Scum (1979)

An uncompromising story of life in a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
John Blundell ...
...
John Fowler ...
Woods
Ray Burdis ...
Eckersley
Patrick Murray ...
Dougan
Herbert Norville ...
Toyne
George Winter ...
Rhodes
Alrick Riley ...
Angel
Peter Francis ...
Philip DaCosta ...
Jackson (as Philip Da Costa)
Perry Benson ...
Formby
...
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Storyline

An uncompromising story of life in a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A fact of life. (double-bill release with Quadrophenia whose tagline is A way of life). 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:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

£250,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally, Carlin was a Glaswegian but was changed to a Cockney when Alan Clarke saw a then unknown Ray Winstone walk in a unique way. See more »

Goofs

Archer, an intelligent character, refers to a Bible in Yugoslavian. There is no such language. 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

Referenced in The Substitute (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
You'll be scared to go into the greenhouse.
4 June 2015 | by See all my reviews

Had the Borstal system not been abolished in 1982, Alan Clarke's controversial drama Scum could have been used as a potent form of crime deterrence, the film's gritty, documentary-like approach being so harrowing that any potentially delinquent viewers would surely think twice about flouting the law for fear of finding themselves banged up in a concrete hellhole with a bunch of sociopathic thugs. If shown as part of the school curriculum, teenage crime figures would surely have dropped quicker than Davis's pants in the film's notorious greenhouse rape scene.

Being buggered while potting plants is just one of the many dangers that face the young inmates of Scum's tough correctional facility. Even hard-nut Carlin (Ray Winstone) feels the pain, receiving a thorough beating from both his fellow cons AND the screws, before eventually establishing himself as 'the daddy'—the top dog amongst the prisoners—by cracking a few select skulls (his methods including the classic 'snooker balls in the sock' trick). Tensions run high when one of the inmates commits suicide after the death of his wife, but when Davis (Julian Firth), seriously depressed after his assault, slashes his wrists during the night, anger and resentment boil over, resulting in rioting.

Chock full of strong language, extreme brutality, and unflinching scenes of racism, suicide and rape, Scum is still extremely shocking stuff, even by today's standards, but is far from exploitative: director Clarke simply tells it like it is, showing us the harsh reality of life behind the walls of the UK's borstals, where every day is a lesson in survival. His film benefits greatly from memorable performances from the excellent cast, both young and old, and a genuine atmosphere of hopelessness. Don't expect an uplifting ending: this ain't no Shawshank Redemption.


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