On June 4th Kino Video will release a Bluray of Alan Clarke‘s Scum (’79), a violent, survival-of-the-most-brutal drama set inside a British borstal. It starred a very young and intense Ray Winstone — his big breakout role — along with his Quadrophenia costar Phil Daniels. There was a gritty realism thing happening in British films at the time, and Scum was one of the stand-outs. It’s an absolute must-see still.
Clarke made two Scum films — a 1977 TV version made for BBC’s Play for Today that was withdrawn from broadcast due to violence. Two years later Clarke and screenwriter Roy Minton remade it as an even more violent feature. British DVDs of both are apparently purchasable (or were purchasable) but the Bluray is presumably the thing to have.
Scum opened in 1980 in New York. I attended the premiere (which happened at some downtown theatre, possible the Eighth Street Playhouse) and then the after-party with my beautiful girlfriend, Kathi Jo, and her fetching best friend. I met Winstone at the party, and right away he asked if I was in the mood to share. “Not the blonde,” I said. “She’s with me but her friend, sure, I guess…go for it.” Smiling Ray liked that response — “Gee, thanks, Jeff!” (Except he pronounced it “Jayff.”) Winstone got distracted by something or someone else and never came over to talk. That night Kathi Jo and her friend and I went back to her place and got into a three-way although not the hot guy-fantasy kind with the women doing each other. It was basically a double-scoop ice cream sundae for me — unforgettable.
20 years later I ran into Winstone at Toronto’s Park Hyatt. This was a day or two after Sexy Beast had opened. Anyway he was with two or three others but we locked eyes and he remembered right away — “Hello, Jayff!”
From the Scum Wiki page: “It was later released on DVD in the UK by Odyssey and Prism Leisure. It was the digitally remastered uncut version but in fullscreen, with only a trailer and an interview as bonus features. In the US an Alan Clarke boxset was issued that included several films, among them both the BBC original and cinema version of the film plus audio commentaries.
“Prism Leisure released a limited edition 2-disc set in the UK on June 13, 2005. Disc One featured the BBC version with an audio commentary and two interviews. Disc Two instead featured the theatrical remake with an audio commentary, several interviews and featurettes and two trailers. It was digitally remastered from a widescreen print. A Region 0 DVD — similar to that in the Alan Clarke boxset, but this time available separately from other Clarke films — followed in the US, released by Blue Underground.”
Here’s a well-written review of the double package by Digitally Obsessed.
Clarke died at age 54 in 1990.