Deep End


1h 30m 1971

Brief Synopsis

A 15-year-old's obsession with a co-worker leads to a deadly string of crimes.

Film Details

Also Known As
Starting Out
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Sep 1971
Premiere Information
Venice Film Festival screening: 1 Sep 1970; New York opening: 10 Aug 1971; Los Angeles opening: 25 Aug 1971
Production Company
Bavaria Atelier; Kettledrum Productions, Inc.; Maran Film
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
Germany and United States
Location
London, England, United Kingdom; London, England, Great Britain; Munich, Germany

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

In London, fifteen-year-old Mike starts his first job at a public bathhouse. While coworker Susan shows him around, he falls into the pool, discomfited by her sensual beauty. One day, Susan asks Mike to cover for her, knowing that he can receive large tips from the lecherous female clients. The naïve Mike is flustered by a seductive older customer, but she eventually corners him in a private room and masturbates while rubbing him against her breasts. Later, Susan finds Mike hiding on the bathhouse roof and hands him his ten-pound tip, offering to identify likely clients for him. Although Mike assumes Susan is good-hearted, when his parents then visit and he asks her to treat his mother with deference, Susan calls his mother "a cow." Mike is confused by her crudeness and malice, but when she leaves that night, he follows her on his bike. The next day, Susan once again sets Mike up with a female client, after which he spots his former gym teacher leading a swim class and flirting with the young female students. Later, as Mike and Susan enjoy the pool after their work shift, Mike's old friends harass her and when he fights with them, they push him in the pool. Under water, he fantasizes that Susan is swimming next to him, naked. When he leaves the bathhouse, however, and helps the teacher with his stalled car, the gym teacher mentions Susan and Mike realizes to his horror that they are sleeping together. Over the next weeks, she flirts with Mike, but informs him that she is engaged to a man named Chris. One day, Mike follows Chris and Susan on their date to a sex film. He sits behind her in the theater and, when Chris looks away, fondles her. Susan slaps him, but as soon as Chris walks out to inform the manager, she turns and kisses Mike. Thrilled, he remains calm even after the police are called in, and when Susan insists to Chris that they leave without pressing charges, the police are forced to let Mike go. On the street, he spots Chris following him and tells a bobby that Chris is trying to molest him. The next day on the roof Susan and Mike discuss Chris, and although Mike insists that Susan does not love him, she points out that he is buying her a diamond ring that evening. Moments later, Mike sees Susan kissing the teacher, and crushed, sets off the fire alarm. When the manager realizes it has been set off deliberately, he blames Susan. After work, Mike steers his bike in front of the teacher's car, in which Susan is a passenger, and when the teacher gets out of the car to talk to Mike, Susan runs over his bike. Days later, Mike's ex-girl friend Kathy arrives at the bathhouse and encourages him to make love to her, but he gently rebuffs her, stating that his school days seem distant to him. Susan continues to flirt with Mike, who grows more and more obsessed with her. One night, he follows her and Chris into a swank nightclub. Unable to pay the door charge, he wanders the streets, avoiding the various sex shows. Outside one shop, he sees a lifesize cardboard cutout of naked girl with a strong resemblance to Susan. Stealing it, he races into an alley and opens the door to a room in which a prostitute wearing a leg cast invites him to stay. She recognizes the girl on the poster as a stripper named Angelica, and attempts to seduce him using the poster, but disgusted, he grabs it and runs out. He spends hours on the street outside the club eating hot dogs and dodging advances from local girls and religious proselytizers. Finally, Susan exits the club and, after refusing Chris's requests to go home with him, walks to the underground station. Mike follows with the poster and confronts her with it, but she calmly asserts that it is not her. Showing off her new ring, she explains to Mike that he cannot offer her what Chris can, and when she tries to leave, he grabs her. Mike then breaks down, tearing the poster into pieces, and Susan assuages him. Later, he goes to the pool, throws the poster in and swims with it, imagining that it is Susan's naked body. The next day, when Susan attends the teacher's student race competition, Mike joins the runners and bursts to the lead. As Susan hurls a snowball hard at a little dog, Mike mistakenly leaves the track, believing the race finished, and loses. Frustrated, he breaks a bottle and places the glass shards under the teacher's car tires. When Susan tries to drive off and flattens the tires, he jumps out laughing and she chases him into the snowy park. While wrestling, she knocks out his tooth with her diamond, and upon realizing that the diamond has fallen out of its setting, searches through the snow in a panic. Mike helps her collect all the nearby snow in garbage bags and bring them back to the closed bathhouse, where they dump the snow into the now emptied pool and rummage through it. Mike lowers a heavy light fixture into the pool to provide illumination, and after Susan removes her stockings, they use them as a sieve. Just then, the teacher knocks on the door, and when Mike forbids Susan to let him in, he crawls in the window and demands that she join him, but she rebels at his commanding tone. As they fight, he mentions his wife, prompting her to shout that he is bad in bed and call him pathetic. After he leaves, Susan realizes that their search may take hours, and so calls Chris with an excuse why she will be late for their date. Returning to the pool, she finds Mike lying naked under a pile of towels. He shows her that he has found the diamond and is holding it on his tongue, and desperate to recover it, she removes her clothes. Noting her reluctance, Mike gives her the diamond, but when she sees how distraught he is, she lets him make love to her. When he proves impotent, however, she runs to answer Chris's telephone call, then dresses to leave. While Mike pleads with her to stay, the teacher breaks into the main bathhouse offices and flips the switch to fill the pool with water. As the level rises, Mike holds onto Susan more urgently, begging her to stay. Finally she is able to break free, but as she climbs the pool ladder, he swings the lighting fixture at the back of her head. It smashes her skull and she slowly falls below the water, dead. Mike embraces her body under the water, finally able to possess her.

Film Details

Also Known As
Starting Out
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Sep 1971
Premiere Information
Venice Film Festival screening: 1 Sep 1970; New York opening: 10 Aug 1971; Los Angeles opening: 25 Aug 1971
Production Company
Bavaria Atelier; Kettledrum Productions, Inc.; Maran Film
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
Germany and United States
Location
London, England, United Kingdom; London, England, Great Britain; Munich, Germany

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Articles

The Gist (Deep End) - THE GIST


Paramount Pictures seems to have thought they had another Roman Polanski in Jerzy Skolimowski. One certainly cannot fault the studio's reasoning: Skolimowski had written dialogue for Polanski's Knife in the Water (1962) and had become in the intervening years a lauded filmmaker in his own right. A published poet and amateur boxer, Skolimowski was prominent in Poland's student society (he was introduced to Polanski by composer Krzysztof Komeda, who scored Polanski's early films prior to his accidental death in 1969) and likely seemed to Hollywood producers another bona fide Eastern block absurdist.

Since the August 1969 murder of his actress wife, Sharon Tate, Polanski (whose Rosemary's Baby had been a cash cow the previous year) was at an artistic impasse. Paramount likely felt Skolimowski was a safe bet. The studio purchased distribution rights for his English language film Deep End (1971), set in London but filmed for the most part at Munich's Bavaria Studios. Critical responses were encouraging. David Thomson hailed the film as "funny, touching, sexy, surreal, and tragic - all at the same time" and even the prickly Pauline Kael was supportive. Nevertheless, Deep End failed to find an audience in the summer of 1971, prompting Paramount to give up on it as a headliner. The film was snuck out as a double feature "co-hit" in support of Lewis Gilbert's Friends (among others) and forgotten...except by those who could not forget.

In fairness to Paramount, Deep End was a hard sell and not due exclusively (as critics have alleged) to its downbeat ending. Skolimowski keeps his characters sketchy but choreographs their movements as if for ballet. Employing handheld cameras and staccato editing, the filmmaker seems to be inclining toward a lumpen verité, a brushing up of the "kitchen sink realism" of Tony Richardson's A Taste of Honey (1961) and Lindsay Anderson's This Sporting Life (1963) a decade earlier; on closer inspection, however, Deep End is precisely art directed, with strict attention paid to framing and the use of color. In Skolimowski's strategic use of reds, his film recalls Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert (1964) but without Antonioni's painterly lugubriousness. The performances feel improvisatory and raw, with the characters talking over one another or swallowing their words. Yet even these potentially alienating choices are in synch with a narrative concerned with disaffection and emotional distance. Superficially, Deep End seems in tune with a tradition of winsome boy-meets-girl tales in which a protagonist on a bicycle (a signifier of low-tech sincerity and innocence) navigates a snaky course towards adulthood. On the flip side, the discomfiture of John Moulder-Brown's bath house heyboy hints at a darker pathology. (The actor had played a full-blown psychopath in the 1969 Spanish shocker La Residencia, aka The House That Screamed.) When sexually frustrated Mike sprints along a dim corridor swatting at hanging lamps, one can't help but flash on the swinging light bulb at the end of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), which had its own idea about the grim legacy of sexual repression.

All this to say that Paramount was playing the percentages when it pulled Deep End, whose trappings (a setting with the potential for boundless nudity, a sexy female lead in Jane Asher, and a protracted sidebar set in London's seedy Soho) suggest a high degree of aerobic sexuality but deliver instead an edgy meditation on modern insecurity. Even Hal Ashby's blackly comic Harold and Maude (which also features songs by Cat Stevens and which Paramount put into general release only a few months after Deep End) is a less problematic film, couching its morbid nature with coyness and camp.

This is not to say that Deep End is a mirthless slog – far from it. The film is richly humorous in an understated way and even works in fun cameos for Burt Kwouk (the long-suffering Cato from The Pink Panther sequels) as an oracular hotdog vendor and Diana Dors as one of the bath house's randier regulars. (Another scene, set in a crippled prostitute's bedsit kitted out with a Rube Goldberg network of pulleys, is a marvelous send up of British nervousness.) Notwithstanding its unexpected denouement (which recalls the sting in the tail of Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour [1945]), the broader strokes of Deep End would recur in a number of popular Hollywood hits of later years, including Peter Yates' Breaking Away (1979) and Harold Ramis' Caddyshack (1980), which both boast cycling heroes obsessed with a beautiful girl positioned out of their respective leagues. These later films profited from reassuring moviegoers that obstacles can be overcome and true love will prevail, while the more pragmatic Deep End paid the price for holding the minority opinion that, with love, all bets are off.

Producer: Helmut Jedele
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Screenplay: Jerzy Skolimowski, Boleslaw Sulik, Jerzy Gruza; Helmut Jedele
Cinematography: Charly Steinberger
Art Direction: Max Ott, Jr., Anthony Pratt
Music: Can, Cat Stevens
Film Editing: Barrie Vince
Cast: Jane Asher (Susan), John Moulder-Brown (Michael 'Mike'), Karl Michael Vogler (Swimming instructor), Christopher Sandford (Chris, fiancé), Diana Dors (Mike's 1. lady client), Louise Martini (Beata 'Lovely Continental', prostitute), Erica Beer (Baths cashier), Anita Lochner (Kathy), Anne-Marie Kuster (Nightclub receptionist), Cheryl Hall (Hot Dog Girl), Christine Paul-Podlasky (White Clouth Girl), Dieter Eppler (Stoker), Karl Ludwig Lindt (Baths manager), Eduard Linkers (Cinema Owner).
C-91m.

by Richard Harland Smith

Sources:
Jerzy Skolimowski biography by Bruce Hodsdon, Senses of Cinema
"Skolimowski: Portrait of a Debutante Director," by Krzysztof-Teodor Toeplitz and Wanda Tomczykowska, University of California Press, 1967
Cult Movies by Danny Peary
Polanski: A Biography by Christopher Sandford
The Gist (Deep End) - The Gist

The Gist (Deep End) - THE GIST

Paramount Pictures seems to have thought they had another Roman Polanski in Jerzy Skolimowski. One certainly cannot fault the studio's reasoning: Skolimowski had written dialogue for Polanski's Knife in the Water (1962) and had become in the intervening years a lauded filmmaker in his own right. A published poet and amateur boxer, Skolimowski was prominent in Poland's student society (he was introduced to Polanski by composer Krzysztof Komeda, who scored Polanski's early films prior to his accidental death in 1969) and likely seemed to Hollywood producers another bona fide Eastern block absurdist. Since the August 1969 murder of his actress wife, Sharon Tate, Polanski (whose Rosemary's Baby had been a cash cow the previous year) was at an artistic impasse. Paramount likely felt Skolimowski was a safe bet. The studio purchased distribution rights for his English language film Deep End (1971), set in London but filmed for the most part at Munich's Bavaria Studios. Critical responses were encouraging. David Thomson hailed the film as "funny, touching, sexy, surreal, and tragic - all at the same time" and even the prickly Pauline Kael was supportive. Nevertheless, Deep End failed to find an audience in the summer of 1971, prompting Paramount to give up on it as a headliner. The film was snuck out as a double feature "co-hit" in support of Lewis Gilbert's Friends (among others) and forgotten...except by those who could not forget. In fairness to Paramount, Deep End was a hard sell and not due exclusively (as critics have alleged) to its downbeat ending. Skolimowski keeps his characters sketchy but choreographs their movements as if for ballet. Employing handheld cameras and staccato editing, the filmmaker seems to be inclining toward a lumpen verité, a brushing up of the "kitchen sink realism" of Tony Richardson's A Taste of Honey (1961) and Lindsay Anderson's This Sporting Life (1963) a decade earlier; on closer inspection, however, Deep End is precisely art directed, with strict attention paid to framing and the use of color. In Skolimowski's strategic use of reds, his film recalls Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert (1964) but without Antonioni's painterly lugubriousness. The performances feel improvisatory and raw, with the characters talking over one another or swallowing their words. Yet even these potentially alienating choices are in synch with a narrative concerned with disaffection and emotional distance. Superficially, Deep End seems in tune with a tradition of winsome boy-meets-girl tales in which a protagonist on a bicycle (a signifier of low-tech sincerity and innocence) navigates a snaky course towards adulthood. On the flip side, the discomfiture of John Moulder-Brown's bath house heyboy hints at a darker pathology. (The actor had played a full-blown psychopath in the 1969 Spanish shocker La Residencia, aka The House That Screamed.) When sexually frustrated Mike sprints along a dim corridor swatting at hanging lamps, one can't help but flash on the swinging light bulb at the end of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), which had its own idea about the grim legacy of sexual repression. All this to say that Paramount was playing the percentages when it pulled Deep End, whose trappings (a setting with the potential for boundless nudity, a sexy female lead in Jane Asher, and a protracted sidebar set in London's seedy Soho) suggest a high degree of aerobic sexuality but deliver instead an edgy meditation on modern insecurity. Even Hal Ashby's blackly comic Harold and Maude (which also features songs by Cat Stevens and which Paramount put into general release only a few months after Deep End) is a less problematic film, couching its morbid nature with coyness and camp. This is not to say that Deep End is a mirthless slog – far from it. The film is richly humorous in an understated way and even works in fun cameos for Burt Kwouk (the long-suffering Cato from The Pink Panther sequels) as an oracular hotdog vendor and Diana Dors as one of the bath house's randier regulars. (Another scene, set in a crippled prostitute's bedsit kitted out with a Rube Goldberg network of pulleys, is a marvelous send up of British nervousness.) Notwithstanding its unexpected denouement (which recalls the sting in the tail of Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour [1945]), the broader strokes of Deep End would recur in a number of popular Hollywood hits of later years, including Peter Yates' Breaking Away (1979) and Harold Ramis' Caddyshack (1980), which both boast cycling heroes obsessed with a beautiful girl positioned out of their respective leagues. These later films profited from reassuring moviegoers that obstacles can be overcome and true love will prevail, while the more pragmatic Deep End paid the price for holding the minority opinion that, with love, all bets are off. Producer: Helmut Jedele Director: Jerzy Skolimowski Screenplay: Jerzy Skolimowski, Boleslaw Sulik, Jerzy Gruza; Helmut Jedele Cinematography: Charly Steinberger Art Direction: Max Ott, Jr., Anthony Pratt Music: Can, Cat Stevens Film Editing: Barrie Vince Cast: Jane Asher (Susan), John Moulder-Brown (Michael 'Mike'), Karl Michael Vogler (Swimming instructor), Christopher Sandford (Chris, fiancé), Diana Dors (Mike's 1. lady client), Louise Martini (Beata 'Lovely Continental', prostitute), Erica Beer (Baths cashier), Anita Lochner (Kathy), Anne-Marie Kuster (Nightclub receptionist), Cheryl Hall (Hot Dog Girl), Christine Paul-Podlasky (White Clouth Girl), Dieter Eppler (Stoker), Karl Ludwig Lindt (Baths manager), Eduard Linkers (Cinema Owner). C-91m. by Richard Harland Smith Sources: Jerzy Skolimowski biography by Bruce Hodsdon, Senses of Cinema "Skolimowski: Portrait of a Debutante Director," by Krzysztof-Teodor Toeplitz and Wanda Tomczykowska, University of California Press, 1967 Cult Movies by Danny Peary Polanski: A Biography by Christopher Sandford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's working title was Starting Out. According to the Variety review, the film was seventy percent financed by the German companies Maran Film (based in Munich) and Bavaria Atelier (based in Geiselgasteig) and thirty percent by the independent American company Kettledrum Productions, owned by executive producer Judd Bernard. In July 1971, Daily Variety reported that Paramount Pictures had purchased the film for distribution.
       Director Jerzy Skolimowski began his career in 1964 in Poland, where many of his films were banned. In the late sixties the director left Poland to work in other countries, often in Britain. Although a few of his 1960s pictures were screened at U.S. film festivals, Deep End marked his first to be shot in English and receive U.S.-wide distribution. Prior to Deep End, Skolimowski was best known in America for co-writing Knife in the Water with Roman Polanski (1963, see below). The director appears in Deep End in a cameo appearance as a passenger on the underground.
       As noted in contemporary reviews and news items, the film was shot in Munich and London. Reviews were generally favorable, with the two leads, Jane Asher and John Moulder Brown, repeatedly singled out for praise. Asher received a 1971 BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. A modern source adds Sean Barry-Weske to the cast.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1970

Released in United States September 1, 1970

Shown at Venice Film Festival September 1, 1970.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1970

Released in United States September 1, 1970 (Shown at Venice Film Festival September 1, 1970.)