• Deep End

    Released by:
    Released on: 7/18/2011

    Director: Jerzy Skolimowski

    Cast: Jane Asher, John Moulder Brown, Diana Dors

    Year: 1970

    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Produced by major studio Paramount, Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End played theaters briefly and then more or less disappeared aside from a few TV broadcasts – for whatever reason, Paramount didn’t release the film on VHS, let alone on DVD, and this new Blu-ray from the BFI marks its first home video release EVER, more than forty years after it was made.

    The film follows a teenager named Mike (John Moulder-Brown) as he embarks on a job he’s accepted at a bath house in London. When he starts, he chats up a foxy auburn haired pool worker named Susan (Jane Asher) who lets him in on a secret – if he’s friendly and flirty with the clientele, he can make fantastic tip money – and this means all of the clientele, both male and female. He decides to put her advice to the test and soon finds himself on the end of some more than friendly groping from an older woman (Diana Dors).

    While he’s getting used to the quirks of his new job, he starts crushing pretty hard on Susan – and you can’t really blame him, as she’s not only very attractive but smart and charming as well. As he starts to fall for her, complications arise in the form of her fiancé, a gruff and somewhat ignorant guy named Chris (Christopher Sanford). Mike’s not quite ready to give up on things with Susan just yet, however – in fact, he’s becoming increasingly obsessed with her to the point where his behavior is starting to get a bit strange.

    Stylish, clever and occasionally twisted, this well acted film will speak to anyone who has ever been toyed with by someone they’ve crushed on. While it becomes pretty obvious early on that Mike is a bit off and that his obsession with Susan is becoming unhealthy, she does lead him on and she does flirt with him and almost seems to be inviting it despite having promised herself to another man. Mike, naïve in the ways of love at only fifteen years of age, can’t really seem to help himself and he doesn’t so much choose to fall in love with someone who doesn’t reciprocate it as he does simply fall into it. When he starts to become a disruptive force in Susan’s relationship with Chris, we know he’s going too far and we know he’ll probably continue to do so but we can’t necessarily dislike him for it.

    Performance wise, we’re in great shape here. Moulder-Brown has the perfect sort of lost boy charm to him and Asher is perfect as the seductress. They have some pretty legitimate chemistry together in the film and share some interesting, even quaint (we’ll stop short of using the word ‘touching’) moments together on screen. You very definitely get the impression that there’s something there, even if it’s not what Mike seems to think it is.

    All of this quirky drama and mounting underlying sexual tension is wrapped up in a swirling package of late sixties mod sensibilities and a great soundtrack which uses (then modern) tracks from the likes of Cat Stevens and Can rather appropriately. It’s all shot with loads of style and yet there’s a distance to the locations and to the city itself that reminds us almost constantly that we’re seeing things from a foreigner’s point of view (in this case, director Skolimowski). Touches of surrealism, highlighted by a scene in which Mike follows Susan around town and in another scene where he lands in a pool atop a cardboard cutout of Susan help to accent the sexual frustration that lies at the core of the film and which is seemingly reciprocated by the city of London itself, a city not quite ready to change and holding on to old fashioned values while the sexual revolution is afoot on its very streets. It all culminates in an appropriately unforgettable ending, a dark finale to a film made up of events that far too many of us will be able to relate to.



    For a film that’s never been released on DVD before, this Blu-ray debut came as quite a surprise but thankfully the BFI’s restoration department has proven to be more than up for giving this film a proper digital home video debut. The AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer is clean and colorful and naturally grainy without looking dirty or damaged. Skin tones look great, detail is consistently impressive and there are only minor instances of noise reduction to note.

    The English language LPCM Mono track on the disc is also quite good, offering up clean, clear dialogue and properly balanced levels ensuring you can appreciate both what the actors are saying and the score that accompanies it all.

    Extras on this release kick off with a seventy three minute documentary entitled Starting Out: The Making of Deep End which features interviews with director Jerzy Skolimowski, cast members Jane Asher, John Moulder Brown, and a few other crew members, each of whom speak at length about their involvement in this film. All involved seem quite happy with the result and there’s a lot of ground covered here, from working with a director who didn’t exactly speak English very well to improvising in the film to the film’s checkered distribution problems. It’s all quite interesting and it’s nice to see a movie as semi-obscure as this one get such a detailed retrospective piece made in its honor.

    The BFI has also included an eight minute segment entitled Deep End: The Deleted Scenes, which discusses bits that were shot but removed from the picture before it played and a bizarre ten minute short film starring Jane Asher and directed by Francine Winham from 1977 entitled Careless Love. This short tells the story of a woman who will do, quite literally, anything she has to in order to hold on to the man she is in love with.

    Inside the keepcase is a booklet featuring an essay from David Thompson about the history of the film and some related articles on British film censorship and notes on the cast and crew members.

    The Final Word:

    The BFI have not only presented this rarely seen gem on Blu-ray in fantastic quality but have really rolled out the red carpet for the extra features as well, making for a really well rounded package that offers up the best of both worlds presentation wise and content wise. The film itself is a good one, a strange, stylish product of its time and a really interesting time capsule of sorts – Deep End is definitely one worth seeking out.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!