Scum (1991)

TV Movie   |    |  Crime, Drama

Scum (1991) Poster

This is the hard and shocking story of life in a British borstal for young offenders. The brutal regime made no attempt to reform or improve the inmates and actively encouraged a power ... See full summary »

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  • Ray Winstone in Scum (1991)
  • Scum (1991)
  • Scum (1991)
  • Ray Winstone in Scum (1991)
  • Ray Winstone in Scum (1991)
  • Scum (1991)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

5 February 2006 | mulhollandman
| Hail Alan Clarke....................... King of Realism!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Scum was originally apart of a trilogy that writer Roy Minton and Director Alan Clarke thought of whilst they were making Funny Farm in 1975. It consisted three films that focused individually on Police training, Army Training and Borstal. They approached a number of backers however it was deemed to costly to make therefore the idea was cancelled. However one backer did put up the money for one of these to be made. Clarke and Minton immediately went for Scum.

The television version of Scum is probably the most famous TV movie to be made in great Britain. This is quite a feat because the vast majority of people will not have seen this TV movie. They will be more aware of the 1979 feature film version. Either way whatever one you see you will be left breathless and shocked at what unveils before our eyes over 78 mins this beautiful bounty runs.

The story is set in one of her majesties Borstals in which underage criminals are dealt with. The lynch pin in the story manifests itself in the form of Carlin played to perfection by the ever wonderful Ray Winstone. Whose arrival at the Borstal from day one sends reverberations around the Borstals corridors because of his previous status as the Daddy in his last Borstal. He arrives with two other inmates Davis and Angel. Davis is instantly the target of bullies and Angel is abused through racial taunts because he is black. They are instantly greeted with physical and verbal abuse from the warders. As the film opens we meet the other trainees (inmates) and we begin to realize that they are far from the criminal hooligans that we would expect them to be. They are lost and vulnerable. They are abused by the people that are there to look after them. In all this comes the supporting character Archer played by David Threfall. An intellectual anarchist whose hours are passed pretending to be vegetarian and not wearing leather shoes on his feet. The Warders are portrayed as ruthless in bullying going so far as to show one of them watch on and let a rape continue.

Alan Clarke established his notoriety with this TV Movie and he continued to provoke the audience with his further films. Clarke is a bona fide realist in my mind he portrays individuals who are thrown into extraordinary circumstances and he his never afraid to pull a punch to create the genuine feeling of realism in his films. Only Ken Loach and scotch director John Mac Kenzie have this effect. But Alan Clarke is in my favourite I have yet to see a film of his that does not effect me.

The only problem I had with it was that it was not cast as well as the film version which has quality performances from non-actors. But all in all a bloody good show.

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Did You Know?


Had originally, in the script, two suicides but had one taken out to avoid repetition and it becoming too harrowing.


Formby: Why am I so far away from home Matron?
Eckersley: Because you murdered that kid.

Alternate Versions

There are differences between the TV and the theatrical version:

  • It is shown in 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
  • Any punches, slaps or kickings are muffled.
  • There is a scene with the 3 new arrivals having a bath in the TV version and not in the theatrical version. Davis complains about the water being too warm and gets slapped.
  • No strong language was used in the TV version.
  • Archer and Carlin talking to each other for the first time differs between the two versions. In the TV version, they talk to each other in the laundry whereas in the theatrical version, a changing room.
  • Banks bullying Davis is slightly different. In the tv version Banks grabs Davis and slaps him and tells him that he is the daddy here and pays his dues like the rest. When Davis says he doesn't smokes, Banks slaps him again. In the theatrical version, he does something similar but kicks Davis as he stood up and shoves him back onto the bench.
  • In the TV version, Davis getting bullied again. Richards pours hot tea on him and Mr. Sands shouts at Davis for being a slob.
  • The TV version omits a scene with Archer talking to the Matron about vetos on books.
  • In the TV version, Mr Greaves asks Carlin about his bruised face. The theatrical version is similar but Mr Sands asks Carlin about his face.
  • The TV version omits Meakin asks the Matron when is she going to call them by their first names.
  • Bank's beating by Carlin is similar in both versions. In the tv version, Carlin dunks Bank's head in the sink and hits him a few times and calmly declares himself the new daddy. He finally kicks kicks him once in the groin. The theatrical is similar but Carlin is more angrier.
  • Baldy's beating by Carlin is fairly brief. The sound effect when Carlin beats him with the pipe is muffled.
  • Toyne's suicide is deleted in the TV version.
  • There is a brief scene with Archer painting "I am happy" on a wall. This is not in the TV version
  • Carlin's homosexual relationship with another inmate is in the TV version.
  • Davis' rape is brief and non graphic compared to the graphic and prolonged film version. His suicide is not as graphic as the theatrical version.
  • After the riots, Carlin is taken to the punishment block and beaten up. The theatrical version is similar but more graphic.
  • The credits has music unlike the theatrical version.


Wide Boy
Written by Rick Lloyd
Performed by The Amazing Mike Kahn Band


Plot Summary


Crime | Drama

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