This has only recently been released on dvd and was apparently quite acclaimed in its time, even getting Oscar nominated, I think. Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatmentis a bizarre little film and one which ticks a lot of the boxes required to qualify it as a cult classic. It was directed by Karel Reisz from a screenplay by David Mercer based on his 1962 television play for BBC TV. The eponymous hero is working-class artist Morgan Delt (David Warner), obsessed with Karl Marx and gorillas who tries to stop his ex-wife (Vanessa Redgrave) from remarrying.
I love all those strange, wacky TV plays that used to come on the BBC in the sixties and seventies (I’m not old enough to remember them the first time round but I’ve seen some of them repeated or on dvd; the best example being the incredible Dennis Potter plays) and this film has a strong feeling of those. It is very, very dated but this may be part of its charm. Included are almost every standard element of sixties British films from drugsy dream sequences, stick-thin girls in mini skirts and Bohemian rebellion to Carry On style contributions from almost every turn on the books including Irene Handl and even Bernard Bresslaw! I wasn’t sure whether to bet on the next familiar face being Austin Powers or Sid James.
This is an unpredictable film and that’s why it’s worth watching. There’s footage of gorillas, giraffes and other wildlife intercut with live action, there’s a scene set at the grave of Karl Marx, there’s a chase scene involving a monkey suit and a motorbike. Quite refreshing in an age where you can sometimes set your clock by movie plots.
On the down side, the first two thirds is quite slow and the character of Morgan isn’t particularly endearing or funny and his crazy antics become pretty irritating at times. I think this is due to David Warner who doesn’t come across as vulnerable enough to get our empathy.
I think the story is trying to say something about how society treats people who don’t conform with the way the majority think and about the law of the jungle. The last part of the film livens up a lot and redeems the rest but my favourite scene is actually when Vanessa Redgrave (who is very hot in this film!) and Robert Stephens are coming home from partying in the early morning through a deserted London; it completely captures a feeling of the time.