Whether you like Morgan, a Suitable Case for Treatment (1966, Karel Reisz) probably depends on how you feel about the title character. David Mercer, the playwright and screenwriter, sees Morgan as a lovable if difficult James Dean type, only more significant because he's a would-be artist and a Trotskyite. You'll probably like the film if you think Morgan (David Warner) is cool. Or, maybe, interesting. If you see him as a frightening, obnoxious bully, you won't care for the movie. I'm definitely in the second group. David Warner went on to make a career of playing villains, and to me he's playing one here, although Mercer and Reisz don't think so. Morgan's taste for violence, fortunately for those around him, is undercut by his ineptitude.
Is this the only time Vanessa Redgrave played a dim-witted character? Any number of starlets could have played the role of the rich, feather-brained wife. It's interesting to see Redgrave, who usually played strong, intelligent women, as someone who is quite the opposite.
The film perks up whenever Irene Handl or Robert Stephens takes the screen. Handl, as Morgan's mum, is a hard-working salt of the earth type, familiar from many British movies, except that she spouts Marxist platitudes all the time. Handl plays the role perfectly deadpan and thus gets every bit of hilarity out of the dialogue. She has the best-written part and all the best lines. Robert Stephens usually strikes me as a capable but not very charismatic actor. Here he has plenty of charisma and energy, even though as the middle-class (boo!) gallery owner who's sleeping with Morgan's wife, we're supposed to hate him. The disarming cool with which he handles Morgan's eruption into the gallery won me over completely.
In Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, his first full-length feature, Karel Reisz seems to be a natural. Here he adds trendy and cutesy bits from the New Wave, which may arguably be all that this material deserves. Not a step forward, though it may have looked like one at the time.