Off and on, for no good reason, I'll be dropping notes on offbeat films that I love. These aren’t necessarily my favorite films of all time. These are my favorite relatively obscure films of all time. Almost all of them are by renowned directors, and almost all of them have fallen between the cracks.
O Lucky Man! 1973 (Warning: If you don’t like this film, you will probably loathe it.)
Lindsey Anderson (If…, This Sporting Life) directs Malcolm McDowell in a long, picaresque fable about finding purpose. The film is Candide updated to 1973 (and at far greater length than Voltaire would have had it—Candide is a model of economy). War in the third world, medical experiments on humans, nuclear secrets, the lifestyles of the upper classes, and the fine art of selling coffee beans--yep, it's all here.
The movie is relentlessly self-conscious and self-referential. Actors are poached from McDowell’s previous films (If… and A Clockwork Orange), and often play multiple roles. Alan Price’s songs provide the score, and Alan Price and his band are in the movie, playing, well, Alan Price and his band. Director Lindsay Anderson is in the movie as well, conferring with the band at odd moments, and apparently putting together the movie we are watching, right up until the Zen ending (which, like the movie itself, is loathed by some). On top of the idiosyncratic ensemble of actors and musicians are standout performances from Ralph Richardson and a young Helen Mirren.
No one seems to know why O Lucky Man! was released on VHS years ago back in the 1980s, while the DVD release was endlessly stalled. There were chatrooms full of snarling fans demanding to know what perfidious conspiracy resulted in the delay. But as of October 23, 2007—gosh, that’s next Tuesday—O Lucky Man! will be out on DVD.