malcolm mcdowell and his movies


When we think of Malcolm McDowell, we tend to think mostly of his work in either Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) or even Caligula. Yet his most important work is, in my eyes, the movie O Lucky Man! (1973) a movie based on his idea where he is also credited as a writer, followed by his first true movie, If…. (1968).

mcdowell-lucky-manIf If…. heralds A Clockwork Orange (both movie feature a young lad who, as a result of his exposure to a violent environment and injustice ends up hardened, violent and insensitive himself, it can be said that O Lucky Man (olm) is an adapted 2001: A Space Odissey which happens exclusively on Earth.

In olm the journey of self-discovery takes place in the space of McDowell’s own life and we can see parts of it exhibited – his time as a travelling coffee salesman. Yet the allegory is also a stinging critique of capitalism. From wikipedia:

During his journey, Travis learns the amoral lesson, reinforced by numerous songs in the soundtrack by Alan Price, that he must abandon his principles in order to succeed, but unlike the other characters he meets he must retain a detached idealism that will allow him to distance himself from the evils of the world: a fact which causes the film to often be considered a reappropriation of Candide by Voltaire. As one of the film's songs says:

Smile while you're makin' it, Laugh while you're takin' it, Even though you're fakin' it, Nobody's gonna know.

In O Lucky Man!, Travis progresses from coffee salesman (working for Imperial Coffee in the North East of England and Scotland), a victim of torture in a government installation and a medical research subject, under the supervision of Dr Millar (Crowden).

I don’t want to write too much about this movie. It’s quite long and not paced well for today’s audiences, but if you have a chance, watch it. The scene with the stern judge going in the backroom of the court to be whipped by a court clerk after issuing his severe order is epic and far truer than one would care to admit. Toronto, where until the Columbine shootings possibly the largest goth contingent thrived, was reportedly comprised of a significant number of lawyers and judges..

Sources / More info: imdb-o-lucky, imdb-if, wiki-malcolm, wiki-if, wiki-o-lucky, imdb-mcdowell, wiki-to-goth, yt-malcolm

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