Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment

Movie Information

In Brief: David Warner stars in his signature role as Morgan Delt — the young man deemed "a suitable case for treatment" in Karel Reisz's best and best-known film. It's the first film that can be said to be a part of the 1960s British film invasion that starts to question the hollowness of "Swinging England." It is a tale of good communist boy (he was raised as such by his mother) — an artist with a gorilla fixation and a grim determination to keep wealthy wife Vanessa Redgrave from divorcing him. Funny, oddly touching and ultimately disturbing.
Genre: British Invasion Comedy-Drama
Director: Karel Reisz (Isadora)
Starring: David Warner, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Stephens, Irene Handl, Bernard Bresslaw
Rated: NR

A slightly amended version of the original review: One of the most enduring and pertinent films of the British film invasion of the 1960s, Karel Reisz’s Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) is the first such film that combines comedy, charm and a sense of something deeply disturbing in just about equal measure. The freewheeling, cheeky exuberance of Richard Lester’s Beatles films starts to turn nasty here. The idea that the Beatles tried to act sane in an insane world finds an extension — and an unnerving one — in Morgan Delt (David Warner in his signature role). Morgan is an iconoclastic young painter with a simian fixation, a communist background and some increasingly obvious mental problems that are exacerbated when his rich wife, Leonie (Vanessa Redgrave), divorces him. As madcap gives way to madness, the film paints a less-than-lovely image of the youth culture — while, amazingly, never losing sight of its appeal and its merits, and staying within the playful confines of Brit-invasion, creative filmmaking style.

Morgan offers an early critique of the emptier side of the counterculture. Our hero Morgan has been raised along strict communist party lines by his constantly grumbling (“I’ll never get any peace in this world and I don’t believe in the next”) mother (Irene Handl), but he has reduced her Marxist teachings to the colorful trappings and empty revolutionary symbols of the hammer and sickle, red stars on train engines and the song “The Red Flag” (much like any jingoist “patriot”). He certainly has no qualms whatsoever about living well off Leonie’s money. In essence, he’s the embodiment of the revolutionist whose primary interest is strictly his own self-indulgence. And yet, he strangely remains the hero of the film — in itself something of a comment on society. Possibly even more disturbing is the fact that the youth of 1966 accepted him as someone with whom they could identify. Much like its hero, the film is brilliantly unbalanced.

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment Friday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

8 thoughts on “Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment

  1. DrSerizawa

    Ha! This was in the movie queue on local KTTV in LA back in the 70s. I saw it 3 times over a couple year period. I loved it. Had to stay up til 2-3AM usually. Naturally with the hundreds and hundreds of stations now on cable there’s no longer any room for such fare. But plenty of showings of “Fast and Furious” schlock.

  2. DrSerizawa

    And reruns of “Law and Order”. Don’t forget endless reruns of “Law and Order”. I miss the days of cable when you had at least a little inventiveness with shows like “TNT MonsterVision” and “USA Banzai”. Now it’s all the lowest common denominator. Reality TV. Death to Reality TV.

    rant off

  3. Ken Hanke

    My late mother seemed to have worked it out where she could watch Law and Order all day long.

  4. Me

    Apparently Morgan Fairchild is named after this film.

    I miss Joe Bob Briggs on TNT.

Leave a Reply to Ken Hanke ×

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.