While poking around Alan Price’s site, I have learned that one of my twenty-five favorite films of all time, Lindsay Anderson’s frequently misunderstood masterpiece, O Lucky Man!, will at long last be released on DVD on October 23, 2007. I understand that Malcolm McDowell recorded a commentary track.
If you have not seen this great picaresque film, which, in three hours, savages more institutions and ideologies than almost any other film I know of, you must check this out. Then again, despite talking with many film geeks over the years, I seem to be the only American to dig this flick.
In the meantime, whet your appetite with Lindsay Anderson’s satirical documentary, Is That All There Is?, which can be found, rather miraculously, on YouTube: [Part One] [Part Two] [Part Three] [Part Four] [Part Five] [Part Six]
This was his final film. And for those who have clocked in numerous hours viewing documentaries, the film is an unexpectedly touching and often hilarious portrait of Anderson in his autumn years. As if responding to every known documentary cliche available, Anderson intercuts footage of starving children while shopping in a supermarket, inserts television clips of current events that have absolutely nothing to do with Anderson’s life, stages needlessly contentious conflicts, and even includes a closing musical number with Alan Price.
Lindsay Anderson is arguably one of the most misunderstood British filmmakers of the past fifty years (indeed, he spent the last of his days searching for money to make more of his surrealistic and anarchistic films) and I’m glad that Warner has seen fit to take a gamble with the release of O Lucky Man! on DVD.
I recall seeing it at Cinema I on Third Avenue between 60th and 61st, the only theater where it was playing on the Saturday night when it opened in June ’73, just a week after I’d graduated college. We’d gotten there early but the line was so long even by then that my girlfriend and I had to sit one behind the other, in the extreme right of the theater, in the first couple of rows. But I’d loved “If…” a few years before, so I didn’t care.
It was exhilirating to watch that movie back then. I remember being both shocked at times and at other times being so taken with the very sharp satire and the incredible acting, in multiple roles, by the supporting cast, particularly Ralph Richardson and Rachel Roberts. (It also featured a character actress I loved, Vivian Pickles.)
It’s really, at least in memory, a brilliant film, but the best part for me are the songs of Alan Price.
Sell, sell, sell, sell everything you stand for…
I still have nightmares about the shivering pig man….
You’re not the only American who loves this film! I first saw it over in England the summer it was released, 1973, and managed to track it down at several venues back in the States over the next couple years (always some arty cinema in the middle of nowhere). I bought the poster, a copy of the script (by the gifted David Sherwin), the VHS video when it was released in that format, and OF COURSE the soundtrack album by Alan Price, one of the finest original soundtracks ever.
I first went to see the film because I loved Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, but I left a devoted Alan Price fan. (For those who don’t know him, he began his career as the organist for the Animals but has since has a varied career, mostly in the UK unfortunately). I am thrilled to have O Lucky Man! at last in DVD, as my VHS copy is getting rather worn out.
FYI, if you dig Alan Price, we have a fan forum at http://www.alanpricefansforum.org.uk. Stop by and check us out!
This was a tremendously important movie for me as well. But I am certain I saw it in a theatre on 12th Street very soon after it was released in 1973.