MORGAN! (Morgan: A Suitable Case for Mistreatment)
(director: Karel Reisz; screenwriter: David Mercer/ based on the television play A Suitable Case for Treatment by Mr. Mercer; cinematographer: Larry Pizer; editors: Tom Priestley/Victor Procter; music: John Dankworth; cast: David Warner (Morgan Delt), Vanessa Redgrave (Leonie Delt), Robert Stephens (Charles Napier), Irene Handl (Mrs. Delt), Bernard Bresslaw (Policeman), Newton Blick (Mr. Henderson), Nan Munro (Mrs. Henderson), Arthur Mullard (Wally), Graham Crowden (Counsel), Peter Collingwood (Geoffrey); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Leon Clore; Warner Home Video; 1966-UK)
“A cult fave from the 1960s.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Czech-born filmmaker Karel Reisz (Sweet Dreams”/”Isadora”/”The French Lieutenant’s Woman”) directs this freewheeling nutty black comedy set in Swinging London that’s viewed as a cult fave from the 1960s. It’s based on the television play A Suitable Case for Treatment by David Mercer. After a fast start it decidedly goes down hill as it’s unable to put the brakes to all its inanity.
The hero of Morgan! is Morgan Delt (David Warner), a maladjusted nonconformist artist living in London with his wife Leonie (Vanessa Redgrave, her feature film debut). He was raised by a Marxist working class mother (Irene Handl) to be revolutionary, but disappointed her by marrying into wealth. The eccentric Morgan lives in a fantasy world, where he seems to have this thing for gorillas and acting harmlessly weird.
Leonie files for divorce while hubby is in Greece, but he unexpectedly returns on the day of the hearing to try and reconcile with her. But Leonie has grown weary of hubby’s infantile behavior and his mental problems, and wants to marry the rational Charles Napier (Robert Stephens)–an art dealer and friend of Morgan’s.
Some of it is funny, some outrageous and some of it is just tiresome. Morgan’s trail of spotty behavior leads to his incarceration in a loony bin. His schizophrenia is exploited and is not used to understand it better or to show empathy for those living with such a debilitating mental condition, but to try and get the most laughs at his expense and show all the pranks the sicko hero pulls to win back his wife and then to sabotage his wife’s second marriage. If the viewer is in need of laughs that come in such a disingenuous way, then there are some there. Others might just find it too juvenile or too falsehearted or not serious enough to care about anything but the bizarre comedic moments. It’s a film that looked better when released than it does some 40 years later, but still holds a strange appeal for those who still find it talks to them about class divide and being a rebel.
REVIEWED ON 9/26/2008 GRADE: B-