"Nothing in this world seems to live up to my best fantasies, except you."
Artist Morgan Delt believes that his mental condition is extremely illegal. He’s right. On the verge of a divorce with the delightful middle class Leonie (well, he did shave a hammer and sickle on the dog) Morgan just can’t get over his ex-wife. And, if truth be told, she can’t quite bring herself to ditch him, despite her pending nuptials to the pretentious art dealer Charles Napier. Morgan is currently living in Leonie’s car outside her home, customised to become a shrine to Communism, but she has gained an injunction to prevent him coming near her. That won’t stop him. He constantly breaks into the house to make love with Leonie, irritate Charles and eventually blows up his interfering soon-to-be-ex mother in law using a detonator he’s placed under the bed.
Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment is clearly a product of its time. One of the most famous images from the film is that of Morgan who, having sabotaged a wedding party dressed in a gorilla costume (which is accidentally set on fire), escapes on a motorbike which he rides, smouldering, through the streets of London. The action is far less sophisticated than modern audiences would be accustomed to, almost quaint in places, but it is the air of sweet anarchy that drives the pace of the film. Gorillas are a recurring theme throughout the film, even from the opening sequence which shows Morgan watching a gorilla at the local zoo, while a documentary style commentary notes that "an angry adult male gorilla is a formidable sight".
Adapted from David Mercer’s television play the film is primarily a character piece and a celebration of English eccentricity, particularly in the supporting characters. Morgan’s mother (Irene Handl), a dedicated Communist, is a joy to watch as Morgan turns up at her cafe to take her to visit Karl Marx’s grave on "his anniversary". Although she likes Leonie, she is not impressed that Morgan found himself a rich woman and is worried that she may have given birth to a Liberal. She absolutely refuses to "de-Stalinise". Other similarly offbeat characters can be seen in the laid back policeman who plays hopscotch in the street when he thinks no one is watching and Mrs Delt’s wrestler friend Wally ‘The Gorilla’ Carver.
We are given insights into Morgan’s psyche through the use of stock footage and cinematic references. When Morgan kidnaps Leonie and hot foots it to a lakeshore in Wales, we watch scenes of him and Leonie splashing about in the lake intercut with the delightful swimming sequence with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan from Tarzan and His Mate (1934). Similarly, scenes from King Kong (1933) of Kong rescuing Fay Wray from captivity or climbing the Empire State Building provide the inspiration for his wedding sabotage plan. Morgan’s internal thought process sees him creating his own animal metaphors for the people he encounters. He views a ticket collector on the underground as a hippo and perceives his mother in law as a vulture.
Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment is undoubtedly comical, indeed there are some laugh out loud moments, but the film as a whole probably lies more in the realm of an interesting curio these days. The class issues, for example, have become far less relevant in the intervening years and would probably be virtually meaningless to a younger audience. Despite these reservations, the performances are consistently excellent throughout, particularly the interaction between the lead characters, and this is what gives the film its offbeat charm.