Deep End (film)
French film poster
|Directed by||Jerzy Skolimowski|
|Produced by||Helmut Jedele|
|Written by||Jerzy Gruza
John Moulder Brown
|Music by||Cat Stevens, Can|
|Edited by||Barry Vince|
|Distributed by||Kettledrum Films (UK 1971)
Paramount (US 1971)
BFI (UK 2011 re-release)
Deep End is a 1970 British-West German drama film directed by Jerzy Skolimowski and starring Jane Asher and John Moulder Brown. Set in London, the film focuses on the relationship between two young co-workers at a suburban bath house and swimming pool.
In 2009, Bavaria Media, a subsidiary of Bavaria Film, which co-produced the film in 1970 through its subsidiary Maran Film, began a digital restoration as part of the film's 40th anniversary, in cooperation with the British Film Institute. The restored film was re-released in UK cinemas on 6 May 2011 and was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on 18 July 2011 in BFI's BFI Flipside series. In March 2012 it was first shown on TV by Film4.
Mike (John Moulder Brown), a 15-year-old school leaver, finds a job in a public bath. There he is trained by his co-worker Susan (Jane Asher), a girl ten years his senior. Susan is a tease who plays with Mike's and other men's feelings, acting sometimes warm and affectionate and other times cold and distant. Working in the bathhouse turns out to involve providing services to clients of a more or less sexual nature, in exchange for a tip. For example, an older woman (Diana Dors) is sexually stimulated by pushing Mike's head into her bosom and talking suggestively about football. Mike is confused by this and at first does not want to accept the tip he gets, but Susan tells him that these services are a normal practice, including exchange of her female clients for his male clients whenever a client prefers the opposite sex.
Mike fantasizes about Susan and falls in love with her, even though she has a wealthy and handsome young fiancé, Chris (Christopher Sandford). Chris takes Susan to an adult movie, and Mike follows them, sits behind Susan, and feels her breast in the dark. Susan allows this for a few seconds, then slaps Mike and tells Chris she is being bothered. But when Chris leaves the theater to get the manager, Susan kisses Mike passionately and acts amused, leaving Mike pleased and encouraged. Mike is nevertheless questioned by police, but because Susan and Chris left without pressing charges, Mike is let go. Mike continues to follow and spy on Susan and Chris until Chris finally gets annoyed and chases Mike, but Mike tells a passing police officer that Chris made an unwelcome pass at him, leaving Chris to be questioned by the officer for alleged "importuning."
Mike then discovers that Susan is cheating on her fiancé with an older, married man (Karl Michael Vogler) who was Mike's physical education teacher and works at the baths as a swimming instructor for teenage girls, touching them inappropriately. In a jealous rage, Mike sets off the fire alarm, cutting his hand, creating a disturbance, and drawing the ire of his boss. That night the instructor picks Susan up from work in his car. Mike pursues them on his bicycle and tries to get Susan's attention by stopping in front of the car, but Susan responds by driving the car over Mike's bicycle, ruining it.
Mike's former girlfriend from school, Kathy (Anita Lochner), comes for a bath, having heard of Mike's infatuation with Susan. Kathy asks Mike why he hasn't phoned her lately and tries to get him to make love to her, something she had apparently refused him before. Mike turns her down and runs away down the hall, swinging each of the ceiling lights as he passes them (foreshadowing the final scene of the movie), as Susan coldly collects his tip from Kathy.
After receiving his first wages, Mike goes to the club that Susan said she would visit with Chris. He discovers that in order to enter, he has to pay an expensive membership fee that he probably cannot afford. While he is considering this, Chris and Susan enter and he quickly hides from them. He then hangs around in the erotic district outside the club, eating hotdogs and waiting for Chris and Susan to come back out. In front of a strip club, he finds a lifesize cut-out photo of a topless girl that looks like Susan, which he steals. He eludes pursuit by ducking into the room of a prostitute with a leg cast (Louise Martini), who offers him her services at a discount, but he is not interested. Outside, after eating more hotdogs and being tricked into buying hotdogs for two girls, Mike finally sees Chris and Susan leaving the club and Susan refusing to go home with Chris. Mike follows Susan onto the Underground, where he confronts her with the photo cutout, demanding that she tell him whether it's her or not, but teasingly she will neither confirm nor deny it and taunts Mike with her new expensive engagement ring that she just received from Chris. Mike flies into a violent tantrum, embarrassing himself and Susan in front of all the passengers on the subway car. He returns to the baths, where nobody is around because it is night, and swims naked with the photo cutout, embracing it.
The next morning, Susan and the instructor attend a foot race that the instructor has organized in his role as a physical education teacher. Mike shows up and annoys them by joining the race and putting pieces of broken bottle under the instructor's car tyres, puncturing the tyres when Susan drives over them. Susan gets mad and hits Mike, losing the diamond from her new engagement ring in the snow. Anxious to find the lost diamond, Mike and Susan collect the snow from the surrounding area in plastic bags and take it back to the closed baths to melt it and thus find the diamond. Since the rooms are locked and the pool area has no wall sockets, Mike connects the wires of a lowered ceiling lamp to an electric kettle, in which they melt the snow. The instructor arrives, upset about his punctured tyres and looking for the car keys he gave Susan. Susan tells him indifferently that she lost the keys, and when he becomes angry and orders her to come with him, she yells at him and insults his sexual prowess until he gives up and leaves.
While Susan is on the phone telling Chris that she may be late meeting him due to a burst pipe at the baths, Mike finds the diamond and lies down naked in the dry pool with the diamond on his tongue. He teases Susan by refusing to give her the diamond until she undresses. When he has seen her naked, he gives her the diamond and she is about to leave, but reconsiders and lies down next to him, and they make love. Just as they finish, Chris telephones and Susan runs to answer it, talking lovingly to him and saying she has just finished up at the baths. Susan rushes around the pool hurriedly gathering her clothes so she can go meet Chris, while Mike begs her to stay and talk to him, but Susan insists she has to leave. Meanwhile an attendant has arrived, who, unaware of the presence of Mike and Susan, opens the valve to start filling the dry pool with water. Mike becomes more insistent, chasing Susan around the rapidly filling pool, grabbing away her clothing and refusing to let her leave. As Susan tries to climb out of the pool, Mike flies into a rage and swings the large ceiling lamp at her, gashing her head and severely injuring her. She falls unconscious into the water as the swinging lamp knocks over a tin of red paint, which mixes in the water with her blood. Mike embraces the dying, nude Susan underwater, just as he embraced the photo cutout.
The film was made in around six months, from conception to completion. It was shot largely in Munich, while some exterior scenes were shot in London's Soho. "The cast were free to improvise, and were instructed to remain in character even if a take went awry."
The film received critical acclaim, with Andrew Sarris comparing it with the best of Godard, Truffaut and Polanski, while Penelope Gilliatt called it "a work of peculiar, cock-a-hoop gifts". "The consensus when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 1970 was that it would have been assured of winning the Golden Lion, if only the prize-giving hadn't been suspended the previous year. " In an interview with NME in 1982, David Lynch described Deep End as "I don´t like colour movies and I can hardly think about colour. It really cheapens things for me and there´s never been a colour movie I've freaked out over except one, this thing called Deep End, which had really great art direction." 
- The Hollywood Reporter — Bavaria restoring 'Deep End'
- BFI press release, 4 April 2011: A New Digital Restoration - Deep End Retrieved 2013-04-11
- The Guardian, 1 May 2011, Deep End: pulled from the water
- Interview with David Hayles, The Times Playlist, 7–13 May 2011
- 1982 NME interview with David Lynch http://www.davidlynch.de/nmelynch.html
- Deep End at the Internet Movie Database
- Deep End at BritMovie
- Deep End at the British Film Institute's Film and TV Database
- Deep End at AllMovie
- Video from Q&A session with Jane Asher and John Moulder-Brown after first showing of the restored version, 4 May 2011 in the British Film Institute's "Explore film..." database
- Optimism Unfulfilled: Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End and the Swinging Sixties, an article by Christopher Weedman, at Senses of Cinema
- Deep End: Ripe for Rediscovery - TCM Movie Morlocks