DVD of the Week: O Lucky Man!

Last week I neglected to post my DVD pick of the week, but the pickings were slim and I couldn’t recommend anything. This week there are plenty of great new DVD releases to get excited about such as Polart’s release of Andrzej Zulawski’s The Devil (Diabel, 1972), The second Mario Bava DVD Box Set and Warner’s new Stanley Kubrick DVD Box Set, but my DVD pick of the week is Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man! (1973), which was released by Warner as an impressive Two-Disc Special Edition on Tuesday.

I’ve been really happy to see Lindsay Anderson’s films finding there way onto on DVD this year. Anderson is one of my favorite British directors and one of the most important figures of the British New Wave, but his early films have often been hard to see in the U.S. and they were never made available on DVD until recently. Thankfully that’s finally changing. Criterion released Anderson’s brilliant If…. (1968) on DVD earlier this year and they recently announced their plans to release This Sporting Life (1963) in early 2008. Now Warner has entered into the Anderson DVD arena with their impressive Deluxe 2 Disc release of O Lucky Man! which as I mentioned over at Cinedelica earlier this week, promises to be one of the best DVD releases of the year.

O Lucky Man! is the second film in Lindsay Anderson’s trilogy focused around the character of Michael Arnold Travis aka Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) who first appeared in If…. and made his last appearance in Anderson’s Britannia Hospital (1982). All three films offer a critical and humorous look at social and political concerns in Britain, which I personally find just as relevant today as they were some 40 years ago. O Lucky Man! is a sort of surreal musical satire that often veers off in the most unexpected directions, but I’ve always found it really engaging and that has a lot to do with Malcolm McDowell’s terrific performance as Mick Travis. Some of the musical numbers in the film don’t always work for me, but Anderson’s ability to mix brilliant eye-catching imagery with smart dialogue is hard to top. O Lucky Man! contains some of the director’s most impressive scenes, but this middle film in Anderson’s terrific trilogy seems to often be overlooked. Thankfully the new Warner DVD will give more people a chance to see the director’s follow-up to If…. and hopefully a new DVD release of Anderson’s Britannia Hospital is in the works since the Anchor Bay release is now out-of-print.

Recommended Links:
My write-up on Warner’s new O Lucky Man! Two-Disc Special Edition DVD at Cinedelica
Tim Lucas talks about Malcolm McDowell
The Lindsay Anderson Memorial Foundation

5 thoughts on “DVD of the Week: O Lucky Man!

  1. What a great movie! I remember this and if were two “finalists” for my selections for 68 and 73 and I referred to the director as the “ever under-rated Lindsey Anderson.” It’s amazing to me still how many people are unaware of his work. I’d like to think this DVD will change that but I think it will be sold to it’s built-in audience and not venture far past that. And it’s the first movie where most of us got to know Helen Mirren, such an excellent actress.

    And as you and I have lamented so many times before, Malcolm McDowell is so good in this and so many other films – and has never been nominated – ONCE! Not ONCE! It boggles the mind! With Helen Mirren just finally winning her first Oscar I hope that Malcolm is not far behind. He is long overdue.

  2. I’ve never seen this one, but it sounds great. Plus I’ll watch anything that Malcolm McDowell is in. I’ll have to check it out. Hope you’re having a good weekend.

  3. Jonathan – I think 60s-70s era British cinema in general tends to often be overlooked a lot due to the lackluster critical response so many of that countries films got during their initial release, which is a shame. Anderson is really brilliant and I’m very happy that his work is finally finding its way onto DVD this year.

    I’m also not surprised McDowell has been overlooked by the Academy since in the early stages of his career he tended to work in more experimental or cutting-edge films. Hopefully he’ll get more interesting roles soon. I haven’t seen a lot of recent films, but Tim Lucas (who I linked to above) seems to have enjoyed many of them.

    Keith – I hope you get a chance to see it soon now that it’s available on DVD! My weekend’s going great and I hope yours is too.

  4. Yes. First of all as a child of Britain in the 60’s and
    70;s – I was born in ’65, I can tell you this film – which
    is an amazing work – really captures of the essence not
    only of how Britains’ meltdown began in the 3-Day Week
    of 1973-75, but also living in the material world or 2008.
    Conditioned to grow up, go to work, do your best till
    burnout, get married, drop dead and die, it’s a funny old
    life isn’t it. No human is spared or allowed to live as
    a person.
    In this EPIC movie, Anderson gives us a full dose of
    one such character, Mick Travis who despite his best
    efforts to succeed in this crazy scnario for “life”, fails
    dismally, simply because he forgot to read the small
    print – a’la “…despite the human doctrine for a “normal”
    life, be prepared to sit on the sidelines unless your very
    very lucky. OR if you dip in the cookie jar don’t get
    Well Mick does get caught, and all sorts of complications
    ensue. But although this film IS genuinelly funny in
    places its wise to bear in mind that always beneath its
    slick surreal veneer, is a VERY serious under-belly.
    Sometimes perhaps too serious. But the sad simple truth
    is that in this world of 2008 everyone gets caught
    somewhere, rightly or wrongly – and even more sadly its’
    often than not perhaps wrongly. The one bright note IN
    this movie is the fact that Anderson DOES offer hope
    to us all. “Smile!” he says in the final segment. And
    smile you must, ESPECIALLY when the chips are down. Cos
    when you forget to do that, then you begin to forget where
    you put it…just like most others nowadays, perhaps?
    The movie also features a standout soundtrack from ex-
    Animals keyboardsman, Alan Price. Check it out, this movie
    is a must for anyone who likes classic Brit Cinema (or
    good Cinema in general), or for those who are more
    serious-minded and would wish to goto making films in
    they’re own right. This, if nothing else is an exercise
    in professional film making and was a tribute to all
    concerned, especially mssrs, McDowell and Anderson.

  5. Thanks for sharing your smart insights about O Lucky Man!, Princess Amara Hassim! I enjoyed reading your comment. I don’t often get such lengthy responses to my posts so yours is much appreciated and I completely agree with you assessment of the film.

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