One man can change the world with a bullet in the right place
July 22, 2007 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Before Caligula, Cat People & Star Trek: Generations, even before he played Alex de Large in Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell was dashingly rebellious in Lindsay Anderson's If. (Some background of that cafe scene)
posted by growabrain (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't realize the slap from If was the genisis for the slap at the end of O Lucky Man. Makes perfect sense though.

A quick word to any parents in the house-
If you absolutely want to guarantee that your son or daughter will grow up with a deep-seated distrust of any and all authority figures and a penchant for self destruction, take them to see a double-bill of If and O Lucky Man.

I'm looking at you, dad.
posted by lekvar at 4:15 PM on July 22, 2007

This is a great movie. I just got a copy of the new Criterion release and have been meaning to dig into it.
posted by dhammond at 4:17 PM on July 22, 2007

McDowell was also insanely miscast as Flashman in the 1975 film Royal Flash.
posted by Joeforking at 4:53 PM on July 22, 2007

Let's not forget his genre-breaking role in the revolutionary art film, "Tank Girl".
posted by Alex404 at 5:01 PM on July 22, 2007

If... was fantastic—after several decades I can still remember the feeling of being punched in the stomach, and watching that scene brings it all back. You never knew what was going to happen next. Nice post!
posted by languagehat at 5:13 PM on July 22, 2007

The scene in O Lucky Man with the human head put onto a sheep's body still gives me nightmares. Whenever I see Malcolm McDowell I get shivers.
posted by eye of newt at 5:34 PM on July 22, 2007

Is it bad that I keep hoping for Alan Price to die because it might improve the chances of an O Lucky Man! DVD release?

(Persistent rumor has it that music rights are the hold up, though there's precious little real info available.)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:10 PM on July 22, 2007

The Geocities link is down.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:10 PM on July 22, 2007

Also one of my favourite films. Hunted it down for quite a awhile on video tape but was pleased to see it on DVD the other day. Interestingly, another of my favourites, W.R. Mysteries of the Organism has also been newly circulated and is also playing at Cinematheque.

I think these films work quite nicely together.
posted by juiceCake at 6:27 PM on July 22, 2007

Malcolm McDowell was at the Traverse City Film Festival last year, taking part in a tribute to Stanley Kubrick. I remember him being incredibly humble in regards to the work he's done.
He let my friends and I accost him for pictures.
Plus, he sang Singing in the Rain before the showing of A Clockwork Orange. Cool guy.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:32 PM on July 22, 2007

IF is a great film. Nice post.
posted by squidfartz at 6:39 PM on July 22, 2007

i've got the criterion disk as well. but if you're in the UK, the Brit DVD includes the screenplay as an exclusive.
posted by cazoo at 7:32 PM on July 22, 2007

He was likeable in Time After Time as well. And he played a damn funny Baron Von Ghoulish, too. In fact, I can no longer see him on the screen without thinking of his "Ulp, gotta go!" line and cracking up.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:50 PM on July 22, 2007

I've been trying to track down the music that plays in the scene. According to Wikipedia, it's the "Sanctus" section from "Miss Luba", a version of the Latin Mass performed by LES TROUBADOURS DU ROI BAUDOUIN, a choir of Congolese boys that recorded and toured in the 50s and 60s.

Apparently the original LP recording is sublime, but it's hard to find now. Philips released a CD in 2004 with "Sanctus" (which I'm downloading now from Napster) but without the B side.

I did find this website which has links to some LP-to-digi tracks from the B side that weren't released on the CD. I recommend having a listen, it really is beautiful.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:24 PM on July 22, 2007

huh, didn't know about If. Got to see it now.

What a wallop of a slap in If. yikes. It was thunderous and must have hurt like the dickens. Miracle he didn't fling the scalding coffee at her. I was a bit white knuckled with anxiety after she clocked him, wondering what the hell he'd do. Them both being tigers after made sensual sense. Reminded me of Morgan, played by David Warner with him visualising people as animals.

Christine Noonan was the slap girl. She died in 2003, played Barbarina in Casanova.

Can't remember Oh Lucky Man. Vague, patchy memories of it waaay back when. Need to see that too. And other Lindsay Anderson films. Only saw his excellent Chariots of Fire.

At 18 I read Clockwork Orange and fell in love with that extraordinary book. Anthony Burgess blew my mind, his amazing Nadsat vocab. Awesome and visionary, shades of Blade Runner.

And then came the movie, was sure it'd be a let down. How could anyone be Alex, really be that snarly-snarky, budding sociopath? McDowell was just perfect. What a nasty hottie. Now he kind of looks like Sting's older brother.
posted by nickyskye at 9:50 PM on July 22, 2007

Being a rebellious teen at the time If came out, I was convinced that the movie had been made with my friends and me as its target audience. I also loved McDowell in Time after Time and was insanely attracted to/repelled by his Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Wow, just wow. What a fascinating, memory-inducing post!
posted by Lynsey at 10:59 PM on July 22, 2007

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