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Ray Winstone stars in Alan Clarke's blistering film about a British borstal school's descent into chaos
"I'm the daddy now!" screams Winstone's young offender Carlin. And who's going to argue with him when he's just smashed his adversary's face in with a sockful of billiard balls?
Scum is a ruthless condemnation of the British borstal system. First produced as a TV drama for the BBC in 1977, it was shelved for being both "too realistic" and a "work of fiction". In other words, it scared the hell out of the suits. Writer Roy Minton then took the script to Alan Clarke to make as a feature film with a largely unknown cast.
The film effectively uses stark brutality to demonstrate its point: that if you treat people like scum they'll behave like scum. And brother, does Clarke make his case as Carlin works his way through an unrelenting battery of rape, racism and razor-blades, corrupt officials and cruel humour to become the school's top dog.
Brutal, visceral, iconic, and acted with ferocious conviction by Ray Winstone. As compelling now as it was in 1979.
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