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Scum (1979)

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


Alan Clarke


Roy Minton



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Winstone ... Carlin
Mick Ford ... Archer
Julian Firth ... Davis
John Blundell ... Banks
Phil Daniels ... Richards
John Fowler John Fowler ... Woods
Ray Burdis ... Eckersley
Patrick Murray Patrick Murray ... Dougan
Herbert Norville Herbert Norville ... Toyne
George Winter George Winter ... Rhodes
Alrick Riley ... Angel
Peter Francis Peter Francis ... Baldy
Philip DaCosta Philip DaCosta ... Jackson (as Philip Da Costa)
Perry Benson Perry Benson ... Formby
Alan Igbon ... Meakin


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The film they tried to ban! A brutal story of today. See more »


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook [Japan]





Release Date:

28 September 1979 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Escoria See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »


Box Office


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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Alan Clarke made this film after the BBC banned his original TV version, Scum (1991), in 1977. See more »


When Carlin is being told to eat his breakfast and the chant begins, the scene moves along the dining hall and a crew member in a grey jacket operating a camera can be seen briefly in the top right hand corner. See more »


Governor: There is NO violence here!
See more »

Alternate Versions

There are differences between the theatrical and the TV version:
  • The aspect ratio is 1.66:1 instead of 1.33:1 in the TV version.
  • The theatrical version omits an opening scene (as seen in the TV version) a runaway, possibly Davis trying to escape his previous open borstal, and his recapture.
  • There is a scene with the 3 new arrivals having a bath in the TV version. This is eliminated in the theatrical version.
  • In the theatrical version, Carlin is transferred from Rowley Borstal as opposed to Bagthorpe Borstal in the TV version.
  • Unlike in the TV version were punches, kicks or slaps are muffled, it is clearly audible in the theatrical version.
  • The use of strong language (and at least 2 instances of very strong language) in the theatrical version.
  • Archer and Carlin talking to each other for the first time differs in the 2 versions. In the TV version, they talk to each other in the laundrette where as in the theatrical version, they introduce each other at a changing room.
  • Banks bullying Davis is slightly different in both version. In the theatrical version, Banks tell Davis to stand up. He does so but Banks kicks him and tells him that he is the daddy here and Davis must pays his dues like the rest. When Davis insists he doesn't smokes, Banks slaps him and reminds that there are no Dolly Mixtures. Banks repeats that he is the daddy and slaps Davis for not responding. He finally pushes Davis on the benches. In the TV version, he just grabs him and slaps him followed by similar dialogue followed by another slap.
  • Richards pours hot tea on Davis and Mr. Sands shouts at Davis for being a slob is not in the theatrical version.
  • There is a scene in the theatrical version where Archer talks to the Matron about vetoes on books.
  • The theatrical version omits a scene where Angel has his clothes stolen by unnamed inmates, and is caught naked on the stairway by a startled Matron and punished.
  • In the TV version, Mr Greaves asks Carlin about his bruised face. In the theatrical version, Mr Sands asks what happened to his face.
  • Meakin asks the Matron when is she going to call them by their first names. This scene is not in the TV version.
  • Bank's beating by Carlin is similar in both versions. In the theatrical version, Carlin dunks Bank's head in the sink and hits him repeatedly. Carlin angrily declares himself the new daddy. He finally kicks kicks him repeatedly in the groin. The TV version is similar but Bank's beating is slightly less brutal and Carlin declares himself as the new daddy but he says it in a much more calmer manner.
  • When Carlin beats up Baldy, the theatrical version depicts the beating as prolonged. The sound effects is much louder when Carlin beats up Baldy with the pipe is louder. In the TV version, Baldy's beating is brief.
  • Toyne's first suicide attempt is in the theatrical version.
  • There is a brief scene with Archer painting "I am happy" on a wall.
  • Carlin's homosexual relationship with another inmate has been eliminated in the theatrical version.
  • Davis' rape is longer and graphic. His suicide is also more graphic than the TV version.
  • After the riots, Carlin is dragged into the punishment cells with a very bloody face. The TV version is similar but without the bloody face.
  • The credits has no music unlike the TV version.
See more »


Remade as Dog Pound (2010) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Brutal Prison Story
18 April 2004 | by RobertF87See all my reviews

This is probably one of the most notorious films to have emerged from Britain. It's become almost a cult film now with it's mixture of brutal violence and memorable quotes ("I'm the Daddy now!")

"Scum" was originally produced for the British television in 1977 (as part of the BBC's "Play for Today" series) but the TV version was banned, so writer Roy Minton and director Alan Clarke re-made it as a cinema film. The film takes place entirely inside a British "Borstal" (a prison for young criminals) and details the experiences of three new inmates, notably the violent Carlin (memorably played by Ray Winstone in his first starring role), who soon rises to the position of "Daddy" (or "top dog") in the institution.

The frequent violence (dealt out by both inmates and guards) is brutal and uncompromising, there are a couple of graphic suicides and, in the most notorious scene in the film, a horrifying rape.

This is a very powerful film that has not lost it's power to shock. Worth watching but only if you've got strong nerves and a strong stomach.

By the way the Borstal system was abolished in Britain in the early 1980s and is replaced by the current "Young Offender's Institutions".

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