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Scrubbers 1982 15

93 mins United Kingdom Director. Mai Zetterling

The success of borstal drama Scum saw screenwriter Roy Minton re-enlisted to scribe this female variant, a similarly seething account of the internecine rivalries of a women’s prison. Amanda York and Kathy Bates are among the ensemble of inmates waging a constant battle with the wardens, fellow prisoners and their own pent-up emotions.

Noted for its questionable depiction of lesbian relationships (as examined in Andrea Weiss’ documentary A Bit of Scarlet), Scrubbers nevertheless offers an interesting women’s take on the prison experience. Its authentic perspective is indebted to its female director, former Swedish screen-star Mai Zetterling, who adapts Minton’s screenplay with gusto while retreating from the heightened histrionics of later female prison examples like Bad Girls (1995), of which Scrubbers can be seen as a direct antecedent.

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Directed by

Mai Zetterling


Kathy Burke

Elizabeth Edmonds

Chrissie Cotterill

Amanda York




Reformatories Girls Young offenders


Gay Cinema - Out of the Archive The Female Gaze LGBT Britain






United Kingdom



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