Shout, The (1978)

The Shout (1978), directed by Jerzy Skolimowski.

A fine summer day, perfect weather for a cricket match at the mental hospital. Typically, when they are all in white uniforms it is hard to know the patients from the staff. It is a fine line between eccentric and nutty.

A patient (is he? didn't he ride up on a motorcycle?) in the scoring booth relates a tale to "Robert Graves", author of the original short story, who of course insists it is all true. The patient also says his story is true, but that he tells it differently each time.

It is about a magic man intruding into a troubled marriage in that local town. Of how souls can exist outside the body and live in stones in the dunes on the beach. Of being able to get inside dreams and manipulate people when you steal something from them. Of the "death shout" he learned when living with an Aborigine tribe in Australia.

He is an unreliable narrator; we know he is the magic man, but are the other people ones we have seen outside of the story?

This is classified as "horror", and it is in that psychological art-film sense. Made from Robert Graves' early short story, also weirdly dreamlike and metaphysically disorienting. It won an award at Cannes and was never heard of again.

Talented leads: Alan Bates, John Hurt, Susannah York. Great support from Robert Stephens and Tim Curry. Early role for Jim Broadbent who strips down to a jockstrap when a storm hits the cricket pitch.

Small part for Carol Drinkwater, best known for All Creatures Great and Small. I confess I also remember her as the nurse who got her boobs out at the end of A Clockwork Orange (1971).

Available as a region B Blu-ray from Network in the UK. The commentary track is by two film buffs who say "We're called when they can't get anyone else. We don't analyze the movies, we just footnote them".

It's an excited wide-ranging commentary with many links to careers, literature and other films. They talk about the director's work with Polanski and some of his other films, but not Deep End (1970), my favorite of his so far.