Scum (1979, Ray Winstone, Mick Ford)

Poster for the movie "Scum"
R 98 min - Crime, Drama - 12 September 1979
Our rating:

When Roy Minton's powerful and controversial television play Scum was banned by the BBC from being transmitted, it was seen by a number of leading critics, among them Stephen Gilbert who wrote in The Observer : "Within the naturalistic framework there's a rattling good tale in the staunch tradition of Hollywood liberalism. The hero, a clear victim of injustice, overcomes the system, holds to his integrity, vanquishes the villains and establishes a new and, it's implied, more principled order ... "

Producers Clive Parsons and Davina Belling read Gilbert's piece and, said Parsons, "At that stage we were seeking a film project that was intrinsically about life but of universal appeal without being parochial, something that had real guts and substance rather than a piece of candy floss." And so, after seeing the banned television film, Parsons and Belling bought the screen rights and made the screen version of Scum with Minton scripting the compelling story of life in a contemporary Borstal, an institution run by violence and brutality rather than reason and where a boy who is able to fight his way to the top of the heap can gain respect of both his fellow inmates and the prison officers.

Alan Clarke, who had made the banned television play, again directed with sensitivity and brilliance, eliciting from his then largely unknown cast natural and unforced performances which added to the impact of one of the major films of the Seventies.

Clarke directs Roy Minton's crusading screenplay with a controlled ferocity that makes no compromises. He shows us a hell in which the inmates and the screws are equally damned but the absolute power of the officers ensures their absolute damnation".


Director:  Alan Clarke
Writers:  Roy Minton
Producer:  Davina Belling, Clive Parsons
Director of Photography:  Phil Meheux

Production Details


Release Date:  12 September 1979

Running Time:  1 h 38 min

Genres: Crime, Drama
Country:   United Kingdom

Language:  English

Tagline: The film they tried to ban! A brutal story of today.

Budget and Box Office takings where known

Budget:  $420,000