Ray Winstone, CARLING THE DADDY
David Threlfall AS ARCHER NOT THE MICK FORD ARCHER YOU KNOW!!!
OPENING SCENE IN " SCUM THE FILM THEY TRIED TO BAN "
Opening with a scene in which Carlin (Ray Winstone) is handcuffed
in a car on his way to begin his sentence at a borstal prison.
OPENING SCENE IN THIS VERSION (ORIGINAL BANNED VERSION)
Davis is seen running across fields trying to escape the open prison
he is captured and is sent to the new borstal.
THIS IS NOT THE " SCUM THE FILM THEY TRIED TO BAN DIRECTORS CUT"
THIS IS THE VERSION THEY DID BAN!!!!!!!!!!
THIS IS TRUELY THE ORIGINAL MOVIE SCUM!
SCUM WAS FIRST PRODUCED AS A MADE FOR BBC TV MOVIE BUT
IT WAS BANNED. IT WAS LEAKED AND SHOWN ON CHANNEL 4 YEARS LATER!!!
BUT BEFORE IT WAS SHOWN ON CHANNEL 4, THE BBC REMADE IT INTO A MOVIE!
THIS IS THE VERSION THEY DID BAN AND IS STILL BANNED
YOUVE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE I KNOW!!!!
IN THE " SCUM THE FILM THEY TRIED TO BAN DIRECTORS CUT"
VERSION " ARCHER " WAS PLAYED BY " MICK FORD "
IN THIS VERSION ARCHER WAS PLAYED BY " DAVID THRELFALL "
AND ALL THE IMATES HAVE LONGER HAIR.
IN THE VERSION YOU HAVE SEEN " CARLIN " IS NOT SHOWN AS HAVING
A " MISSUS " AS A CELL MATE , YES THATS RIGHT CARLING HAS
PONGO BANKS IS CLEARY YOUNGER AND FATTER!!!
THE BLOKE WHO GETS HIT WITH THE POOL BALLS? IN THIS VERSION HE
GETS TWATTED TWICE!!!!!!!!!!!!
THIS IS THE MOVIE IN ITS ORIGINAL UNCUT STATE BEFORE THEY
REMADE IT FOR GENERAL RELEASE!!
THIS IS THE BANNED VERSION!!!
THIS VERSION NEVER MADE THE CINEMA, NEVER MADE VIDEO OR DVD
IT WAS SHOWN ONCE ON TV AND THAT IS ALL, IT WILL NEVER BE SHOWN
AGAIN!!!!! I WOULD APPRIECIATE ANYONE WHO DOWNLOADS THIS TO CONFIRM
THAT THIS IS NOT THE " FILM THEY TRIED TO BAN " BUT IN FACT THE
TRUELY ORIGINAL VERSION!!!!!!
The story of the TV version of Scum is well known in the British film
and TV industry. Written by Roy Minton and directed by Alan Clarke,
the project had been green-lighted as part of the prestigious Play for
Today series by BBC1 controller Brian Cowgill, but following his departure
and replacement with the more cautiously minded Billy Cotton, problems arose.
Cuts were requested, Home Office and Prison officials were called in to view it,
and the decision was made that the film should not be transmitted. Despite
having been already advertised, Scum was pulled from the schedules and remained
a banned work for the next fourteen years, and even then only received a
single screening on rival station Channel 4, where it was introduced by
Made in Britain writer David Leland (who memorably instructed us all to
set our video recorders going now) as part of a season of programmes paying
tribute to Alan Clarke, who had died a year earlier. Despite this sizeable
initial setback, Clarke and Minton refused to give up on the project,
and two years later re-shot the film on 35mm for a cinema release.
The resulting work became one of the most successful British films of the year,
and one that to this day remains an powerful and iconic work.
Most of those coming to the original version of Scum, myself included,
do so having already become familiar with the feature film version.
This brings baggage to the viewing that is unfair and unfortunate -
in my case the cinema version was a key film of my youth, a work that
genuinely affected my attitude to cinema in general, as well as my
introduction to the work of Alan Clarke. To fully appreciate the original's
qualities it is important to put that aside, and to cart yourself
back to the 1970s and imagine just what would have happened if you
had tuned in at 9.25 at night and been presented, completely out of
the blue, with this. Had it not been banned, of course.
For the uninitiated, Scum is set in a borstal, a word that may mean
little to younger viewers, the reason being that the borstal system
itself was abolished by The Criminal Justice Act in 1982. Borstals
were institutions in which young offenders were incarcerated under a
strict regime of harsh discipline, work and education. They were intended
to teach their inmates respect for authority, install in them a strong work
ethic and build character, but by the 1970s it was becoming clear that
in some institutions control was being maintained by a regime of violence,
bullying and racism, and that it was being dished out both by staff and
inmates alike. Into just such an institution arrive three new unfortunates:
tough, street-wise Carlin has been transferred from another borstal
after hitting a warder; quiet, introverted Davis ran away from a minimum
security establishment; newcomer Angel is black, and unprepared for the
racism that is to be dished out to him by his white custodians and fellow
prisoners. Carlin in particular becomes an immediate focus for attention,
his reputation as a 'daddy' - an inmate in an unofficial position of power
attained through violence and gangland-style intimidation - having arrived
ahead of him, and this brings him into immediate conflict with the warders
and incumbent daddy Pongo Banks.
The original version of Scum is both more low key and, in some ways, more
hesitant than its later feature film brother. Most of the performances
lack the extraordinary confidence they have in the film and there are none
of the compellingly executed 'walking shots' that were to become a trademark
aspect of the director's visual style. But this approach can also be seen
as less sensationalist than the film, and creates an intimacy with the
characters that is immediately engaging and has a matter-of-fact quality
that in some ways makes it seem even more realistic.
The narrative is virtually identical to the feature, as is the dialogue,
though here lacks the expletives that are now seen as so central to some
of the film's most memorable lines. Individual scenes sometimes unfold
differently and there are some location shifts, but those familiar with
the feature will be at home here. Where the two do part company a little
is in the second half - in this version Carlin plays an increasingly minor
narrative role, and in a compelling scene that did not make it into the film
(due to Ray Winstone being uncomfortable with it) he takes on a 'missus',
a young inmate he keeps around for company and sexual gratification.
This leads to a scene also unique to this version in which the increasingly
despairing Davis goes to Carlin for advice, but is dismissed out of hand
when he feels unable to talk in front of this now ever-present companion.
This paints Carlin in a more callous light and makes his own attitude a
contributory factor in Davis's eventual suicide, and does suggest a stronger
motivation for Carlin to lead the riot that follows, springing out of his
own anger at himself for allowing this to happen.
As Carlin, Ray Winstone was making his acting debut, but though he lacks
the ferocious confidence he displays in the remake, his obvious youth
and naturalistic delivery really sell the reality of his character and
the situation he finds himself in. This also applies to many of the support
roles, where the feature film gave the actors a second shot at the same part,
something almost every actor must have wanted at one time or another.
That character that differs most noticeably between two films is without doubt Archer,
the cynical intellectual that Carlin befriends and the mouthpiece for
Roy Minton's own views on the situation. Played to scene-stealing
perfection by Mick Ford in the remake, the interpretation here by David Threlfall
is very different, less animated and lacking the cocky world-weariness
that Ford made central to his interpretation. Threlfall, however, is just
as fascinating in his way, and certainly is less of a sore thumb standout
in this particularly institution than Archer #2. (Threlfall was to really
prove his worth five years later with his heart-breaking performance as Smike
in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Nicholas Nickleby.)
Initially it is Carlin who drives the narrative, the beatings and humiliation
he endures leading to the inevitable but still hugely cathartic scene in which
he takes out Pongo and his boys and establishes himself as the new power on
the block, a position consolidated when he defeats Baldy, the intimidating
black boss of B wing, by swinging a weapon in a fight his opponent was under
the impression would be settled with fists. It is in this scene, as in the
earlier one in which Angel is beaten by Pongo and then given a nasty
dressing-down by a warder, that the nature of the racism given full voice
by many of the white characters is illustrated - far from being an expression
of racial hatred, it is used as yet another method of control, a bullying
put-down used to belittle and humiliate. That it is so direct will no doubt
cause some newcomers to the story to balk a little at these scenes, but it
never feels gratuitous, even at its most unpleasant.
As the film builds, simmers and finally explodes, the viewer is left with the
image of a system that does not strengthen character nor install respect for
authority, but brutalises and destroys, takes young men who have broken the
rules and moulds them into hardened criminals. If the TV original never quite
captures the electrifying power of the feature version, then this is only right
- the demands and expectations of a cinema feature are different to that of a
TV play, and it's a sign of the screenplay's strength that no significant
changes had to be made to story, character or dialogue. As a work of its time,
a TV play made for screening on a mainstream TV channel, Scum is an
astonishing achievement. That it was banned and buried by the people who
should have been celebrating this is scandalous, but that there is nothing
being produced by any UK TV channel now that comes even halfway close to
matching the film's boldness, ambition and commitment, is ultimately depressing.