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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Spain Rowdon's Avatar
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    in Danny Peary's essay on Morgan! in "Cult Movies 2", he refers to David Mercer's teleplay A Suitable Case for Treatment starring Ian Hendry (to point out the differences between the famous 'Morgan' and his original incarnation as a "jaded adulterer").



    I had never even heard of the play (well - I must have, because it's not the first time I've read this essay) - Does anyone know anything about it?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Ireland
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    It was made by the BBC and was screened as 'The Sunday Night Play' on 21st October 1962, with Jane Merrow (who was later in 'The Prisoner' episode 'Schizoid Man') as 'Jean'

    Bernard


  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    For those interested, here's what the Guardian thought




  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: England cornershop15's Avatar
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    Tragically, several of David Mercer's TV plays were destroyed, but I did at least get the chance to see Let's Murder Vivaldi (1968), with Denholm Elliott, Gwen Watford and a young Glenda Jackson, and In Two Minds (1967) when they were shown on the BBC (ironically). The latter was remade as the film Family Life (1971). I think I taped The Parachute (1968) when that was shown but my recording was of poor quality and so I've never seen it. Fascinating cast: Alan Badel, Jill Bennett, playwright John Osborne and director Lindsay Anderson.



    I have a book called Collected TV Plays 2, which includes those mentioned plus For Tea on Sunday (1963), done again in 1978, and And Did Those Feet? (1965), which was published just after his death. I don't know the fate of those two plays but have always been bitter and frustrated about A Suitable Case for Treatment as it stars two of my favourite TV actors, Ian Hendry and Jane Merrow. I'm really upset that I don't have the chance to see them in this, the only time they appeared together on screen. Jack May is among the cast, best known to me as the Gerald Harper's butler in Adam Adamant Lives, which also has a tragic archive history.



    A revealing extract from the BFI's page for the film version:



    One of the British cinema's more memorable images in the 1960s was that of a man dressed in a smouldering gorilla suit, speeding away from the camera on a motorbike.



    The sequence was not in David Mercer's original TV play,
    A Suitable Case for Treatment (1962), transmitted by the BBC as a Sunday Night Play. Now lost , it starred Ian Hendry as Morgan. In the play, Morgan dons neither a gorilla suit to gatecrash his ex-wife's wedding nor ends up in a psychiatric hospital.



    Trivia: Anna Wing appeared in two TV plays by David Mercer - this one and And Did Those Feet? - and two films that he scripted: an adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll's House and Providence, starring Dirk Bogarde

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Nobody's yet mentioned the film re-make of MORGAN which was available on DVD. There was a time not so long ago when you could pick it up for a fiver (not the �44 quoted on Amazon) so it might crop up on ebay - or in a charity shop.



    Mercer has been unjustly neglected but the BBC have had revival seasons of his plays - the last one was in the mid 90's, if I recall rightly - and, compared to other tv playwrights, quite a few of his plays are in circulation amongst collectors.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Jon Savage celebrates the film Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment

    Karel Reisz's 1966 film about a young man broken down by the new consumer culture is a bizarre, brilliant portrait of changing times. Jon Savage explains its influence

    Jon Savage celebrates the film Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment | Film | The Guardian
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 10 February 2011




    David Warner in Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment

    Morgan Delt is in court. In the preceding hour or so of screen time, he has ignored an injunction preventing him from contacting his ex-wife Leonie, broken into their once shared house, run a sequence of extremely loud animal noises to disturb Leonie and her new partner Charles Napier, exploded a thunderflash under his mother-in-law, and finally, kidnapped Leonie in an abortive attempt to live in the wilderness of deep Wales.

    This rapidly escalating sequence of harassment has been undercut by Morgan's ineptitude, but there's no doubt he's in big trouble. So what does he do? He daydreams. A giraffe is being lassoed by a group of horsemen: then we see a number of these wild animals run free through the veldt. Jerked out of his reverie by the judge asking him whether he has anything to say, he smiles beatifically: "I don't recognise this court at all."

    This scene was not in the first version of this story, which was broadcast as a TV play by the BBC in October 1962, with Ian Hendry in the lead role. The story was written by David Mercer, who had himself experienced severe depression. By the time Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment � directed by Karel Reisz and starring David Warner as Morgan � was released in April 1966, some plot and dialogue remained the same, but the mood was much sharper and harder.

    It's the cultural, social and political difference between 1962 and 1966. Whereas the earlier version remains within genre bounds, Morgan trashes them freely. The tone is all over the place: is it a marital farce, a swinging London romp, or a deeply subversive assault on the British class system and, indeed, all the values that society holds dear?

    Formally, Morgan marks the moment when British social realism moved into a surrealistic depiction of inner psychological states. Karel Reisz had already made his name as a founder member of the Free Cinema documentary movement: 1959's We Are the Lambeth Boys was a groundbreaking look at young working-class life, while 1960's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning showed naturalism could be big box office.

    Half a decade and a youth revolution later, Morgan has been living the dream. The grittiness of inner urban life has been replaced by the luxuries of upper-middle-class London. Leonie's flat is full of consumer goodies, while Morgan himself is recast from the original as a painter rather than a writer: his nemesis Charles Napier has a fashionable West End gallery full of mobiles and action sculptures. So does capitalism reinvent itself.

    Like Mercer himself, Morgan has made it. But the gulf between his hardcore Stalinist upbringing and the new, apparently classless metropolitan consumer culture is beginning to tear him apart. And so a comedy of manners begins to tip into something darker. Morgan appears to be a bumbling fool, but he is also the fool in an older, deeper sense: the jester who strips away the veils of illusion to reveal an unpalatable truth.

    The plot hinges on the dying marriage of Morgan and Leonie (Vanessa Redgrave). Their early bickering is standard sitcom fare, except Morgan is always ready to amp up the rhetoric: "Tiresome? Is that what you call it? A human soul eviscerated? A life destroyed?" He blunders around to the point where you sympathise with Leonie: "Everyone takes you seriously until they get to know you."

    But this is exactly where she is wrong. As the film progresses, you begin to realise that Morgan is not being melodramatic, but actually offering a factual, accurate record of a breakdown as it is happening. As he says to Napier, "You can't count on me being civilised � I've lost the thread." To depict this disintegration � or is it a flight into clarity? � Reisz begins to intercut natural history footage into Morgan's reveries. In one famous scene, he is ascending an escalator in the tube: a young woman comes down on the other side. Morgan leans on the moving hand-rail and envisions a peacock fluffing its feathers as the young girl flutters her mascaraed eyelashes: an ornamental but useless creature. A fat ticket collector yawns and we see the gaping maw of a huge hippopotamus. Civilisation is a thin veneer in the urban jungle, and Morgan wishes himself a gorilla, a big beast.

    Morgan's particular problem is that, in the words of his mother � beautifully played by Irene Handl as a 1930s communist who "refuses to deStalinise" � he is "a class traitor". And the film's fantasy sequences really begin to bite when he returns to his adolescent bedroom, high above the railway tracks in the Holloway Road. He has returned to the parental home, to find that there is no home any more: his hold on reality is coming adrift.

    While the film was being shot, those within the new, chimerical, classless culture began to hit the wall. In the winter of 1965/66, Ray Davies satirised swinging London in songs such as Where Have All the Good Times Gone? and Dedicated Follower of Fashion. Overwhelmed by global superstardom, Davies had a collapse in February 1966: as he wrote soon afterwards in Too Much On My Mind: "My poor demented mind is slowly going." It was also in February 1966 that the Rolling Stones released their depiction of disturbance, 19th Nervous Breakdown. In tandem with the effects of psychedelic drugs and the acceleration of media culture, during 1966 bizarre psychological states became a pop property with records both serious � Love's Seven and Seven Is, the Move's Disturbance � and ludicrous, such as Napoleon XIV's They're Coming to Take Me Away.

    Morgan is already there. His dreams are becoming nightmares. As he admits: "Nothing in this world seems to live up to my best fantasies." After disrupting Charles and Leonie's wedding � dressed up in a gorilla suit, spurred on by intercut clips from the 1933 version of King Kong � Morgan speeds off on a purloined motorbike, his suit smouldering, along a Park Lane still in the throes of redevelopment, in a wonderful shot.

    Then his madness overwhelms him. The location is not the West End or Notting Hill, but the vast scrapyards around Battersea, south of the Thames: the hidden London. He imagines he is, like Trotsky or any other enemy of the people, about to be executed: powerless, he is hoisted up by a crane in the straitjacket he has long feared. Fantasy is intercut with reality in a disturbing climax.

    The epilogue is satisfyingly ambiguous. Morgan is where he always thought he would be: in a mental hospital. He is pictured working methodically on a flower arrangement as Leonie visits. Almost without words, he learns she is pregnant with his child � his final revenge. And then he turns away, finally freed from her corrosive ambivalence. The camera pans up to reveal the flower bed design: a hammer and sickle.

    Released in April 1966 � the month Time magazine's Swinging London issue was published � Morgan is both of its time and points forward to the darker popular culture that would ensue later that year and into 1968, the year of international youth revolution. Indeed, its popularity among the young may well have facilitated this radicalisation, certainly within Britain. The film's depiction of madness is deliberately ambivalent. The inner logic of Morgan's statements and his sure self-knowledge, as well as his rejection of the consumer society's superficial trappings, mark him as the only sane character. His madness, therefore, is like the state celebrated by RD Laing: insanity not as a state worthy of condign treatment but as a rebellion, the only possible act of sanity in a mad, mad world.

    The symbol of the imprisoning restraint is echoed by Laing's famous statement, in his book, Sanity, Madness and the Family: "Society places every child in a straitjacket". Mercer was heavily influenced by Laing's theories, and employed the psychologist as a consultant on his 1967 drama Two Minds, which related a young woman's schizophrenia to her oppressive family background.

    Mercer was not alone in espousing Laing's theories, which, as the countercultural writer Jeff Nuttall charted in his 1968 book Bomb Culture, fed directly into the radical aesthetics of the mid-60s underground. In some ways, they were the perfect antidote to the collapse of the old communist left. They would gain an even greater popularity after 1968.

    There would be echoes of Morgan in popular culture as well, in the sharpening divide between youth and its rulers. Just over a year after the film's release, the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards would be failing to recognise the court of the land: "We are not old men," he told the prosecuting counsel in a drug case that had effectively become a show trial for the counter-culture. "We are not worried about petty morals."

    Morgan's anarchic disregard for society's conventions would also find another willing adherent. It was, according to his friend and biographer Fred Vermorel, one of Malcolm McLaren's favourite films. As Morgan threatens Charles Napier, you can hear him presage the hostility of the aggressive hippies and the punks they spawned. "Violence has a kind of dignity in a loving man, and I'm full of love. I shall punish you with love." He brandishes a knuckleduster. "Now, where would you like love?"

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Ireland
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornershop15 View Post
    I think I taped The Parachute (1968) when that was shown but my recording was of poor quality and so I've never seen it.
    What on earth did you record it on in 1968? I believe that early home video tape recorders existed then, but only as toys of the super rich.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: England cornershop15's Avatar
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    Great to be reminded of this thread. I failed to underline them but you'll find the links to the IMDb pages for the plays I mentioned still work.

    Quote Originally Posted by doojeen View Post
    What on earth did you record it on in 1968? I believe that early home video tape recorders existed then, but only as toys of the super rich.
    If only there were more of those "toys" back then - so much could have been saved. Sorry to have misled you, doojeen. This was actually a repeat showing of The Parachute about 20 years later, again on the BBC. It gained a lot of attention in The Times and I still have a couple of articles with photos of the cast.

    From what I remember, the Play of the Month was part of a season of David Mercer's surviving work, which also included four of his Wednesday Plays: In Two Minds, Let's Murder Vivaldi, On the Eve of Publication and The Cellar and the Almond Tree. I can recall choosing not to bother with a 'new' play, which I think was specially produced for this retrospective, as I've only ever been interested in the past. This was surely A Dinner of Herbs, transmitted in 1988, the year I was thinking of, and eight years after the writer's death.

    Good News, Bad News
    (David Mercer's TV archive status)

    Lost:
    Sunday Night Play: A Suitable Case for Treatment; ITV Play of the Week: The Buried Man; The Birth of a Private Man; and For Tea on Sunday.

    Still in the Archives:
    In addition to the aforementioned Wednesday Plays, the lesser-known And Did Those Feet? and Emma's Time both exist, but are still neglected. The latter starred Michele Dotrice in the title role, with support from Ian Holm and Pauline Yates, so I am very interested in this production.

    Other surviving plays comprise of Where the Difference Begins, A Climate of Fear, Armchair Theatre: A Way of Living; Play for Today: The Bankrupt; Thirty-Minute Theatre: You and Me and Him; Sunday Night Theatre: Afternoon at the Festival; Omnibus: Find Me; Huggy Bear; the ITV Sunday Night Dramas The Arcata Promise and A Superstition; Flint (a BBC2 Play of the Month, like The Parachute); BBC2 Play of the Week productions Shooting the Chandelier and the 1978 version of For Tea on Sunday; and ITV Playhouse: A Rod of Iron.

    Joint Ventures
    Last time it was Anna Wing but I'm now interested to discover that both Peter Vaughan and Pauline Letts appeared in three David Mercer plays each. Peter in You and Me and Him, Emma's Time and The Cellar and the Almond Tree, and Pauline in Where the Difference Begins, A Climate of Fear and The Birth of a Private Man, also starring Jane Merrow. Meaning she was in two of the author's lost TV plays - the other being A Suitable Case for Treatment. Not happy. And none of those existing plays are on DVD either.
    Last edited by cornershop15; 16-03-11 at 09:23 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: England cornershop15's Avatar
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    David Mercer interview, Radio Times 6-12 April 1968

    His play Let's Murder Vivaldi was broadcast on the 10th:

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    Much as I love the film version of this I really do feel sad about the wiping of the original TV play

  11. #11
    Senior Member moonfleet's Avatar
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    David Mercer is also the screenwriter of Alain Resnais Providence, which is also a kind of surrealistic script.

    I got this book that includes the film scenario and the dialogues


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