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  Morgan - A Suitable Case For Treatment They Call It Madness
Year: 1966
Director: Karel Reisz
Stars: David Warner, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Stephens, Irene Handl, Arthur Mullard, Bernard Bresslaw, Nan Munro, Newton Blick, Graham Crowden
Genre: Comedy, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Morgan Delt (David Warner) is being divorced by his wife Leonie (Vanessa Redgrave) because she can't stand his aggressively eccentric behaviour any more. She had packed him off to a holiday in Greece while the hearing was held, but he flies back early, enters their house and assembles a human skeleton in her bed. When Leonie returns from the court feeling liberated, she is shocked by the skeleton, and immediately realises that Morgan is hiding in her home. Tracking him down, she argues with him that their marriage is over, but Morgan loves her too much to let her go, and is driven to great lengths to make sure she stays with him...

For a while, this was one of the most popular cult films of the sixties, but its sparkle has faded these days. Written by David Mercer from his television play, it awarded Warner with one of his best roles, and the impulsive, obsessive artist suited him perfectly. As Leonie, Redgrave put across what had attracted her to Morgan, while still making it clear that there was no place in her life for him from now on. They make a great screen couple, where the deep love for one another is there but twisted by class divide and Morgan's intolerable possessiveness, but the film fudges just about every other issue it confronts, even if it can be hilarious at times.

One of Morgan's obsessions is gorillas, and he sees the unfriendly world about him in terms of the jungle, as we witness when wildlife clips are edited in to illustrate his point of view: a ticket collector yawning becomes a hippo, scaffolding outside his house reminds him of monkeys swinging through the trees, and so on. One of his most prized belongings is a stuffed gorilla. He even acts like a gorilla; it's a very physical peformance by Warner, as he runs about, tumbles down stairs or topples off a car roof. Morgan's other preoccupation is Communism, as he idolises Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, as taught to him by his dear old mother (Irene Handl), who he feels he has shamed by living a life of comfort with rich Leonie.

Leonie already has a boyfriend, the far more stable Charles (Robert Stephens) who she plans to marry. Morgan confronts him by turning up at the modern art gallery where he works and brandishing a gun - Charles starts of being reasonable, but the meeting ends up with Morgan being chased around by the staff and thrown out. The stunts he pulls to disrupt everyone who stands between him and his ex-wife are the highlights, whether it's putting explosives under the bed or wiring up the house to a loudspeaker system that plays a space rocket countdown when Leonie and the exasperated Charles get amorous.

Eventually, with the help of his mother's wrestler friend Wally "The Gorilla" (Arthur Mullard), Morgan kidnaps Leonie, but she is conflicted in her love for him and her need to be as far away from him as possible for the good of her sanity, if not his. In fact, the artist is heading for a breakdown, which is pretty hard to take when we've been laughing at him for the whole movie, frustrating as he is. Any serious themes such as class troubles, mental illness or a marriage on the rocks are scuppered by the self-consciously wacky approach, and as excellent as Warner and Redgrave are, any emotional pain they are feeling is treated casually until the end, after Morgan has unveiled his piece de resistance, crashing the wedding in a gorilla suit. Frequently very funny, but just as dissatisfying and unable to live up to its responsibilities, I suppose the tone matches Morgan's erratic personality, yet it's a pity that it isn't as uncompromising. Music by Johnny Dankworth.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Karel Reisz  (1926 - 2002)

Czech-born director Karel Reisz fled his home country to escape the Nazis and settled in Britain. On film, after an association with the Free Cinema Movement he made an impact with important kitchen sink drama Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, thriller remake Night Must Fall, cult favourite Morgan - A Suitable Case for Treatment, biopic Isadora, The Gambler, Vietnam war drama Who'll Stop the Rain? and The French Lieutenant's Woman.

 
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