Scum Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 1, 2007
I'm the Daddy!
Jack Hawkins
Super Reviewer
February 16, 2012
Despite being released over 30 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Scum has lost none of its punch. Scum is an unforgiving portrait of the British borstal system; 1 hour and 30 minutes of both physical and psychological abuse.
The film examines the hierarchy of the borstal, looking at the behaviour and roles of both the wardens and the inmates, questioning who's worst. The hierarchy is ruptured when Carlin (Ray Winstone) enters the borstal. Carlin claims to be looking for 'no trouble', but really is equally or even more pugnacious and skullduggerous than the rest.

Much like 'Cool Hand Luke' and 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest', Scum explores the infuriating frustration of injustice in 'correctional' institutions. Personally, I find few things worse than the abuse of power, whether it's within an institution or within a family. I'm sure many would agree with me on that, subsequently making Scum an engrossing, resonating and unpleasant watch for all. The character of Archer, an intelligent and supposedly staunch vegetarian who's out to make life hard for the screws, delivers strands of Roy Minton's script that brilliantly observe the system and the angry men that staff these institutions - "Although you have spent your life in the prison service, you are still only a basic officer. Now, who gets the stick for that? Us. Who pays for that daily humiliation?"

It's Carlin's arrival, growth and ultimately tenure as 'The Daddy' that serves as the central narrative of the film, but, as a whole, it is a condemnation of the British borstal system that's the films message and purpose. Through convincing performances and harsh realism, Scum accomplishes what it sets out to achieve: depict the reprehensible conditions of violence, racism and corruption in these institutions. One may wonder if the film exaggerated these conditions, but the borstal system was abolished by government in 1982, replacing it with 'Youth Custody Centres'. I think this speaks volumes for Scum's credibility.
Super Reviewer
June 11, 2007
A film I've always meant to waatch, but only just got around to seeing it.

It's the 70's and gritty brutal life inside a English Borstal for boys urges it's prisioners to compete for survival of the fittest. A harsh reality reflecting the violence, rape, racial segregation etc etc and was no doubt controversial but very honest for it's time.

This had to be the role that gave Ray Winstone his big break and made him into a British (at least) household name.
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2009
One of the best British films ever made. Scum is the daddy!
Super Reviewer
November 26, 2006
Still incredibly shocking and disturbing even 30 years on. Delivers a strong depiction of life in a borstal during the 1970's. A film that must be watched...

More to follow in a bit
Beefy
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2007
A good film, but nowhere near as sensational as I'd heard it was.
WrenchLT
Super Reviewer
½ April 14, 2007
"The Daddy" of all prison movies. No other film has come close to being as brutal, realistic and shocking as this. Racism, suicide, rape, bullying are all explored in graphic detail. It doesn't make for comfortable viewing, and it's certainly not a film to watch if you're in a depressed, suicidal state. But it's a film that once you've watched, you'll never forget it.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2013
Upon their arrival at a new borstal, Angel(Alrick Riley) and Carlin(Ray Winstone) are given a lecture from Sands(John Judd), the headmaster, before the beating from Banks(John Blundell), the lead bully, which they conveniently give the same lie to Sands about. If for no other reason, it is because of the color of Angel's skin and the threat Carlin might present. Luckily for himself, Archer(Mick Ford) presents no threat even though he would like to be able to read Russian literature.

Maybe once a time, "Scum" might have seemed disturbing with its acute depictions of violence but time has softened its impact which has as much to do with recent basic cable programming as the fact that somehow Ray Winstone is much more intimidating in middle age than as a baby faced young man. I speak for everyone when I say that Archer is my favorite character but sometimes too much attention is paid to him, especially in an extended conversation that almost brings the movie to a halt. In any case, race is the underlying theme here in an institution where the adults seem much more interested in arcane rules than in preventing harm from two prisoners who use violence towards two radically different agendas.
Super Reviewer
½ May 22, 2010
A raw, brutal look at the power struggles within an English prison for young men. Fighting, rape and even suicide are standard fare, and the dialogue also serves as a solid primer for vulgar UK slang. The film's production values are a bit crude, but the acting is so good that it's almost unfathomable that these kids weren't genuine offenders. Did they really enjoy a meal together at the catering table, after a tough day of shooting?

I do feel the flamboyant conclusion was a bit inconsistent and illogical. I can't say more without spoiling.

I should add that I saw the 1979 version, not the original, made-for-television film.
keith222
Super Reviewer
May 19, 2009
You don't fuck with the Daddy!!! Especially when Ray Winstone has no problem kicking you in the nuts and hitting you with pool balls
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2007
Gritty and nasty little British reform school film.
DrLappos
Super Reviewer
June 1, 2007
Who's the Daddy1 Brilliant and very gritty.
December 6, 2008
Excellent BBC film from 1977 featuring a young and promising Ray Winstone in the main role. An interesting piece on the nature of institutionalization, and how life in and outside of the walls of an institution can be better or worse, depending on the perspective. Worth a look if you appreciate the nihilistic tone of films like 'A Clockwork Orange' or 'if....'
½ April 9, 2014
Heavy-duty expose of the British reform school system.
January 10, 2014
Why Shawshank kinda sucks!
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2013
Upon their arrival at a new borstal, Angel(Alrick Riley) and Carlin(Ray Winstone) are given a lecture from Sands(John Judd), the headmaster, before the beating from Banks(John Blundell), the lead bully, which they conveniently give the same lie to Sands about. If for no other reason, it is because of the color of Angel's skin and the threat Carlin might present. Luckily for himself, Archer(Mick Ford) presents no threat even though he would like to be able to read Russian literature.

Maybe once a time, "Scum" might have seemed disturbing with its acute depictions of violence but time has softened its impact which has as much to do with recent basic cable programming as the fact that somehow Ray Winstone is much more intimidating in middle age than as a baby faced young man. I speak for everyone when I say that Archer is my favorite character but sometimes too much attention is paid to him, especially in an extended conversation that almost brings the movie to a halt. In any case, race is the underlying theme here in an institution where the adults seem much more interested in arcane rules than in preventing harm from two prisoners who use violence towards two radically different agendas.
August 31, 2013
suprisied, disturbing and realistic
½ August 6, 2013
ray is being a hard man again
½ July 8, 2013
banned by the BBC, trumpeted be Empire, and finally finding its way to the front of my queue
½ June 23, 2013
A classic 'cult film' of the late 1970's. I first saw it at the Cinema when it was released and came out 'a shocked teenager'...then I realized that this kind of thing really happens. Then I saw again on the TV more than 30 years later...still good...so many talented actors looking so young !
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