As acknowledged by Malcolm McDowell in his commentary track, Warner Bros have sourced an excellent print of “O Lucky Man!” to transfer to the new region 1 DVD. This is, for me, Lindsay Anderson’s masterwork; a highly original and audacious piece of filmmaking. Although very much a product of the ‘70s, its universal themes have ensured that the film has not dated.
As with the DVD of “If”, McDowell provides a superb commentary track full of interesting stories and observations. His commentary is obviously intended for an American audience, referring at one point to the English not having received the film well. He says it didn’t do well in the UK although I certainly remember it being received by a very enthusiastic audience when it first opened to a packed audience at the Warner cinema in London’s Leicester Square. McDowell explains that the reel containing the scenes involving the Salvation Army and Mrs Richards’ suicide was originally cut (on Warner Bros instructions) in order to shorten the film. Many years later when it came to restoring the reel the original negative could not be found, which is why the 10 minute restored sequence on the DVD is of poor quality (McDowell doesn’t point out that the cuts were only made to the US version).
Alan Price (whose songs punctuate the film as in a Greek chorus) and scriptwriter David Sherwin also contribute to the commentary track but McDowell speaks for about 90% of the time. He obviously recorded the track by himself but Alan Price and David Sherwin were clearly watching the film together. The lengthy documentary “O Lucky Malcolm!” is also excellent and very revealing about McDowell. He comes across as something of an irascible character and a prankster, as well as a great raconteur; which is why he is so good at doing commentary tracks. I’m now looking forward to hearing his commentary track for “A Clockwork Orange”.
That cut actually happened by accident according to McDowell and they simply went with it, at least that was how McDowell told it at a talk prior to the EFI screening of O Lucky Man (McDowell was priceless in his recollections).
Does anyone know whether the print sourced has the different grain in this section? It's not a big issue as the grain did suit the gritty feel to those scenes - I bet infact a few lazy reviewers thought it was a deliberate artistic choice!
Man, I have been waiting for this release since DVD came out. Finally!
I read a review in this months Sight & Sound of McDowell's one-man stage show about Anderson Never Apologize which has been filmed and is released soon. The website has lots of information including a couple of clips. The write-up in S&S was very positive, I look forward to seeing it.
Another time it might have been so different......
Got to agree with Douglas R about this being Anderson's masterpiece. A sublime piece of work, the film has been on my wishlist since the dawn of dvd (and I still haven't bleedin' received my copy yet )
Is there an R2 release coming soon(-ish)? The R1 sounds good, but R1s are more difficult for me to get hold of, and the (near) simultaneous release of R1/2 versions of If... got me wondering.
Can't see anything up for preorder yet so don't hold your breath.
I sold my copy of the screenplay last week on Amazon and I'm really starting to regret it. It's a very attractive book with lots of stills from the film and has been oop for years (so I got around £30) for it, but I just know that when the dvd shows up I'll wish I still had it. The eternal dilemma of the collector without unlimited funds..
I'm just into disc two, and I'm very much liking the film so far. For me, it seems like a British equivalent of all the quality movies that were being made in America over this period, and it got me to thinking about why on earth so few quality films were being made in Britain over this time, when it was such a golden time across the pond.
Another point is that my usually beloved Time Out Film Guide disses the film as "like something made by the Carry On team under the temporary influence of surrealism"- I have to say, so far, that is, happily, extremely inaccurate.