Deep End (film)

Deep End (film)
Deep End

Promotional French film poster.
Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski
Written by Jerzy Gruza
Jerzy Skolimowski
Boleslaw Sulik
Starring Jane Asher
John Moulder Brown
Diana Dors
Music by Cat Stevens, Can
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (1970, original) Bavaria Media (2010, DVD), British Film Institute (2011, DVD)
Release date(s) 1 September 1970 (1970-09-01) (Venice Film Festival)
1971 (1971) (United Kingdom)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United Kingdom
West Germany
Language English

Deep End is a 1970 British-West German drama film directed by Jerzy Skolimowski and starring Jane Asher, John Moulder Brown and Diana Dors. The film is set in the suburbs of London and is perhaps best known for featuring the song "Mother Sky" by the band Can and "But I Might Die Tonight", the Cat Stevens song, which is used to moving effect at the film's finale. Long thought lost, the film has recently been broadcast in the USA, uncut, on Turner Classic Movies, and Bavaria Media is restoring the movie as part of the film's 40th anniversary recognition, for a 2010 DVD release.[1] The film was re-released in UK cinemas on May 6th 2011 and was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD by the British Film Institute on 18 July 2011 in its BFI Flipside series.



Mike (John Moulder Brown), a 15-year-old boy who has left school, finds a job in a public bathhouse with a swimming pool. There he is trained by his 10-year-older co-worker Susan (Jane Asher), a girl who invades Mike's fantasies, but plays with his feelings. 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 is sexually stimulated by rudely touching his head all over while talking 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 falls in love with Susan, and follows her in the night. Her fiancé takes her to an adult movie, and Mike follows them and takes a seat behind Susan. He touches her breasts. She plays being disturbed, and her fiancé leaves the auditorium to warn the manager, but when he is gone Susan kisses Mike, and shows being amused. Mike is pleased and relieved, but he is nevertheless questioned by the police. However, Susan and her fiancé leave without pressing charges, so the police let him go. The police now blames the manager for admitting a minor to an X-rated film. He promises to have a severe talk to the cashier, and gives the two officers a drink, which settles matters. The fiancé follows Mike to take revenge, but Mike tells a police officer, who questions the financé about the alleged importunity.

Subsequently Mike discovers that Susan is cheating on her fiancé with an older man who was Mike's track coach and works as swim coach for teenage girls at the bathhouse, whom he touches inappropriately. Mike is jealous and smashes the fire alarm, cutting his hand.

After receiving his first wages Mike goes to the club Susan told she would go to with her fiancé. He has to become a member to enter, but while considering this Susan and her fiancé leave, and he quickly hides in the toilet. He hangs around in the same erotic district, eating hotdogs, and finds, in front of a strip club, a topless cardboard cut-out of a girl that may or may not be Susan. He is uncomfortable with Susan exposing herself like this and steals it; he hides in a room of a brothel, and is welcomed by a prostitute with a leg cast, who offers her services at a discount. Mike declines, after which she complains that she has already provided him her time, drink and emotions, but he leaves anyway. On the underground he confronts Susan with the picture, but she neither confirms nor denies that it is her. He returns to the bathhouse, where nobody is around because it is night, and swims nakedly with the picture.

Later in a park, Mike crashes the gym/swim coach's track race and puts pieces of a broken bottle under the coach's tires, puncturing them when Susan drives over them. She discovers that Mike did this and hits him, losing the diamond from her engagement ring in the snow. Mike helps her to collect the snow where the diamond might have fallen, and they take it in plastic bags to the bathhouse to melt it. 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, and they melt the ice in the kettle at the bottom of the dry pool. Meanwhile the coach arrives, upset about the punctured tires; Susan tells him indifferently that she lost the car keys she borrowed, and he leaves angrily.

Mike finds the diamond when Susan is on the phone with her fiancé and lies down naked in the dry pool with the diamond on his tongue. After she undresses he gives the diamond to her, after which she is about to leave, but she reconsiders, undresses, and embraces Mike. After a while Mike says he is sorry, and Susan says that it does not matter. Meanwhile an attendant has arrived, who, unaware of the presence of Mike and Susan, fills the pool with water by opening a valve. Susan is about to leave but Mike wants her to stay, and in his rage swings the large ceiling lamp at her, severely injuring her. She falls unconscious while a tin of red paint is knocked over by the swinging lamp, mixing with Susan's blood. Mike embraces the dying Susan underwater, while both are still nude. With the kettle in the water, but still connected to the mains through the lamp, for Mike the danger of being electrocuted looms.


The film was made in around six months, from conception to completion.[2] An international co-production between the US and Germany, it was shot largely in Munich.[2] "The cast were free to improvise, and were instructed to remain in character even if a take went awry."[2]

Many years later Jane Asher denied suggestions that she had used a body double for some of her scenes: "I certainly didn't! ... And, looking back, I like the way it's done."[3]


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".[2] "The consensus when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 1970 was that it would have been a dead cert for the Golden Lion, if only the prize-giving hadn't been suspended the previous year."[2]


  1. ^ The Hollywood Reporter — Bavaria restoring 'Deep End'
  2. ^ a b c d e The Guardian, 1 May 2011, Deep End: pulled from the water
  3. ^ Interview with David Hayles, The Times Playlist, 7-13 May 2011

External links

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