O Lucky Man! (1973)

O LUCKY MAN! (1973)
Article 3929 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-7-2012
Posting Date: 5-17-2012
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Featuring Malcolm McDowell, Ralph Richardson, Rachel Roberts
Country: UK / USA
What it is: Satire

An ambitious and eager coffee salesman is sent out to take over the position of another salesman who has disappeared. This eventually causes him to undertake an odyssey that will put his ambition and eagerness to the test…

This is a sprawling and very long epic, based on an idea from Malcolm McDowell and brought to life by Lindsay Anderson, who is perhaps best know for IF…., which also featured McDowell as a character of the same name as the one he has here. I’d seen it years ago, and though I remember certain individual moments, I didn’t remember it well. The movie’s actually a bit tough to get through, and to some extent it’s because it’s a little hard to find the center of the story because of its rambling, episodic nature; it isn’t until the end that you really see what the story arc is. The movie primarily qualifies as fantastic cinema thanks to a sequence in which the main character volunteers for scientific experimentation and then discovers what his fate is going to be; outside of that, there’s an air of surreal weirdness over much of the action that makes it at least partially a fantasy. With the exception of McDowell and Helen Mirren, all of the major actors have multiple roles. The use of music is striking, with Alan Price actually performing all of the numbers instead of having them heard over the action of the movie; he also appears as a character in the movie itself at one point. The movie works because the ending is strong and memorable, though I wonder how many people were able to make it that far. And I was wondering if the actor playing the film director at the end of the film was Lindsay Anderson himself, and sure enough, it was.

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