IMDb > Scum (1979)
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Scum (1979) More at IMDbPro »


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7.6/10   6,383 votes »
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Roy Minton (writer)
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Release Date:
28 September 1979 (UK) See more »
The film they tried to ban! A brutal story of today. See more »
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... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
A raw, powerful film See more (83 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Ray Winstone ... Carlin
Mick Ford ... Archer
Julian Firth ... Davis
John Blundell ... Banks

Phil Daniels ... Richards
John Judd ... Mr Sands

Philip Jackson ... Greaves
Peter Howell ... Governor
John Grillo ... Goodyear
Ray Burdis ... Eckersley
Alan Igbon ... Meakin
John Fowler ... Woods
Bill Dean ... Duke

P.H. Moriarty ... Hunt
Nigel Humphreys ... Taylor
Jo Kendall ... Matron

Patrick Murray ... Dougan
Herbert Norville ... Toyne
George Winter ... Rhodes
Alrick Riley ... Angel
Philip DaCosta ... Jackson (as Philip Da Costa)
Peter Francis ... Baldy

Andrew Paul ... Betts

Sean Chapman ... James
Ozzie Stevens ... Smith
Ricky Wales ... Chambers
James Donnelly ... Whittle
Joe Fordham ... Reg
Ray Jewers ... Gym Instructor
Ian Liston ... White
Charles Rayford ... Philpott
John Rogan ... Escort
Perry Benson ... Formby
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Danny John-Jules ... Extra (uncredited)

Matthew Sim ... Inmate (uncredited)
Michael Tarn ... Extra (uncredited)

Directed by
Alan Clarke 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Roy Minton  writer

Produced by
Davina Belling .... producer
Don Boyd .... executive producer
Martin Campbell .... associate producer
Clive Parsons .... producer
Michael Relph .... executive producer
Cinematography by
Phil Meheux 
Film Editing by
Michael Bradsell 
Casting by
Esta Charkham 
Beth Charkham (uncredited)
Art Direction by
Michael Porter 
Makeup Department
Debbie Scragg .... makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Raymond Day .... first assistant director
Michael Hamlyn .... assistant director
Chris Rose .... assistant director
Art Department
Bob Hedges .... props (as Bobby Hedges)
Judith Lang .... assistant art director
Sound Department
John Chandler .... boom operator
David John .... sound mixer
Tony Message .... sound effects editor
Terry Poulton .... sound editor
Steve Spencer .... assistant sound editor
Hugh Strain .... dubbing mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Terry Edland .... gaffer
Joe Felix .... grip
Graham Hazard .... focus puller
Paul Jordan .... clapper loader
Joe Pearce .... still photographer
Mike Proudfoot .... camera operator
Billy Brooks .... electrician (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Monica Howe .... wardrobe mistress
Editorial Department
Roy Burge .... assistant editor
Other crew
Sallianne Branson .... production assistant
Terry Connors .... production accountant
Geoff Freeman .... unit publicist
Alison Thorne .... continuity
Rik Walters .... researcher (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
98 min
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:R | Canada:13+ (Quebec) | Finland:K-16 | France:-16 | Germany:16 (re-rating) (2006) | Iceland:16 | Japan:R15+ (2014) | New Zealand:(Banned) (original rating) | New Zealand:R18 (re-rating) | Norway:18 (1980) | Sweden:15 | UK:18 (video rating) | USA:R | West Germany:18 (original rating)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

The word "Borstal" is a British term for a "youth penitentiary" but it has also been used for "detention centers" and "approved schools". Borstals were for serious offenders and extreme delinquency and were run by the Her Majesty's Prison Service. The meaning of the term "borstal training" was really just another way of saying "court sentence".See more »
Factual errors: 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 »
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 »
Movie Connections:
Robertson's Marmalade JingleSee more »


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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
A raw, powerful film, 12 July 2005
Author: davideo-2 from United Kingdom

STAR RATING: ***** The Works **** Just Misses the Mark *** That Little Bit In Between ** Lagging Behind * The Pits

Tough thief Carlin (Ray Winstone) is transferred from his previous borstal after assaulting a prison officer to a much tougher institution where force and fear is the ultimate currency. The film follows the fortunes of him and the other inmates there and Carlin's relentless quest to come out as 'the daddy' among the other hard-case cons...

Nowadays, many people complain about the shambolic state of British Justice (once the envy of the world!) and, significantly, how Young Offenders Institutions are now just converted holiday-camps for those sent there who scoff at their lamentably lame punishment. Yet the very purpose of this film, made over 20 years ago, was to show the abuse of human rights that was taking place at the time in the borstals in Britain and to get something done in the way of changing it.

Having chosen a crime-free life in my youth and thus never being sent to a borstal (and not knowing of anyone who did!) I would have no way of knowing if the events portrayed in this film really took place, but if they were as bad as this, the film very chillingly gets them across. It's another one of those cult films where there's no real actual plot (i.e. Trainspotting) par se, but in it's drama function it very involvingly depicts the trials and tribulations of the inmates in their struggle to survive in the oppressive, violent world of the borstal and their individual characteristics that ultimately determine whether they'll come out on top or not. The bleakness of their world is further emphasized by the film's clever absence of a soundtrack.

As for the performances, Winstone cemented his future success with his ground-breaking performance here as the foul-mouthed, hard-cased, cockney to the bone 'daddy' who fights to come out on top in a world of aggression. All of the supporting cast do wonders in their individual roles do wonders to, especially those portraying the prison officers who are not far separated from the very thugs they're meant to be controlling.

Scum is a film that is thoroughly deserving of it's cult status, a film that spurned those in power into action and, though dealing with issues that are nowhere near as bad as back then, is no less as shocking and disturbing. *****

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Moral of the story? metalcj
Archer eating a sausage.. suzanne_grey
Whats so bad about rape scene? JackLondon2004
1979! jimmy_hamill-997-495389
Who are the two screws at the beginning of the film firebird_1984
Recent American remake? brujitabubabu
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