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137 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most brilliant, underappreciated films ever made
One of the most brilliant motion pictures ever made, and a strong contender for the best British film of all time. "O' Lucky Man" originated in an idea from Malcolm McDowell about a coffee salesman traveling throughout England. McDowell and director Lindsay Anderson, who collaborated on "If" (winner of the 1969 Palme D'Or at Cannes) resurrected the...
Published on February 21, 2000 by Nathan Southern

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Then vs Now
Absolutely loved this one in the '70s, but, on second look years later, age has taken its toll on the lot of us, perhaps.
Published 12 months ago by Dave Scheinman


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137 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most brilliant, underappreciated films ever made, February 21, 2000
This review is from: O Lucky Man [VHS] (VHS Tape)
One of the most brilliant motion pictures ever made, and a strong contender for the best British film of all time. "O' Lucky Man" originated in an idea from Malcolm McDowell about a coffee salesman traveling throughout England. McDowell and director Lindsay Anderson, who collaborated on "If" (winner of the 1969 Palme D'Or at Cannes) resurrected the character of Mick Travis (McDowell) for an epic-length feature in 1973. After several failed attempts by McDowell to write a script, David Sherwin ("If...") penned the screenplay.
"O' Lucky Man's" greatest strength is its incredible scope: in merely three hours, the film provides a nihilistic and a-humanist answer for the meaning of life... a remarkable accomplishment for a single feature film. As salesman Travis journeys across the United Kingdom and attempts to sell coffee in England and Scotland, he has a series of loosely-connected experiences with a series of individuals, played by eleven actors in multiple roles, who represent fundamental literary archetypes. The situations Travis encounters run the gamut of human experience, from titillating and humorous to wildly surreal to sublime and poetic -- yet all revolve around the picture's central theme: that true success in life depends exclusively on luck and chance, instead of ethics or morality. Sherwin and Anderson handle the story's constant shifts in mood with finesse and ease, and during the picture's three-hour running time, every scene (without exception) packs a huge punch. Thematically, "O' Lucky Man" draws from classic allegories, notably "Candide." Stylistically, it includes strong Brechtian elements (Anderson's cuts-to-black at the end of each scene continually remind us that we're watching a FILM) and incorporates a few striking cinematic allusions, notably an homage to Coppola's final shot in "The Godfather." Thus, one could argue that Anderson's epic qualifies as the definitive modernist film.
The true test of "O' Lucky Man's" excellence, however, is its ability to reveal new layers of meaning with repetition. Even after watching the film ten or twelve times, one can leave refreshed with new wisdom and insight.
British music-hall performer Alan Price wrote the film's incredible score, and makes several guest appearances as himself. Price and his band (seen in occasional cutaways) act as a Greek chorus and serenade Mick Travis during his journey.
Tragically, in the British Film Institute's poll for the top 100 British films of all time, this didn't even make the cut.
Two interesting pieces of trivia about "O' Lucky Man": first, according to the British Board of Film Classification ([...] the film was originally rated X upon release (like "If..."), and ran at about 185 minutes (fifteen minutes longer than the American and European video versions). Thus, an X-rated version still exists... somewhere. But unfortunately, the more explicit cut hasn't received any distribution on videocassette and is difficult, perhaps impossible, to obtain. (One might be able to view it through private British collections and archives). Second, the incredible soundtrack by Alan Price resurfaced briefly on compact disc in late 1995, but went out-of-print approximately two years later. For anyone who would like to purchase a copy of the album, cd issues **are** available. I would suggest searching for the rerelease in used compact disc shops.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Cosmic Allegory, August 18, 2005
This review is from: O Lucky Man [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I really love this movie, but only view it every few years, like a fine wine that is savored on special occasions. Every viewing evokes in me a sublime and bittersweet floodgate of angst and nostalgia that only someone who was young in the late 60s and early 70s could understand.

Other reviews have detailed the plot and themes in this sprawling, surrealistic allegory, so I'll just comment on a few themes and symbols not mentioned previously. The apple that is given to Mick seems to symbolize the Biblical "fruit of the tree of knowledge", which is used in the movie to great effect when he arrives at the medical center where gruesome genetic experiments are being conducted. Also, the genetic experiments seem to evoke Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, in which a compliant population is genetically engineered to love it's servitude. The shocking scene with a genetic "freak" shows a man's head on a sheep's body. The sheep is symbolic of one who unquestioningly follows authority and conforms to society.

I disagree with the reviewer who interprets the ending scene as Mick being "literally beaten into smiling". I beleive this is a reference to the Zen Buddhist practice in which a Zen master, suddenly and without warning, strikes a student with a rod to shock him out of illusory delusion, and into sudden enlightenment. The scene in which Mick is approaching the military base has him listening to a radio lecture on Zen, which would support this interpretation. The fact that Lindsey Anderson "awakens" Mick by striking him on the face with the very script of the movie itself, adds a cosmic "mobius strip" ending to the movie, and enlightens Mick into understanding that his true self is not to be confused with any of the roles he has played in the story, good or bad! A brilliant allegory about life!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lucky to say the least, May 1, 2004
By 
Benjamin Wiebe (winnipeg, manitoba Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: O Lucky Man [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I recently watched O Lucky Man again with a friend who was watching it for the first time, and I became accutely aware of the feelings I had when I first watched it. It was an exhilarating and inspirational experience. I envied my friend for a moment and then I got back to the picture...and I realized how much better this movie gets after repeated viewings. Wow!
But as so many have said here in these reviews, a DVD release (Criterion are YOU listening??) packed with extras is sooooo overdue. I've only ever seen this film on vhs and I'm salivating at the thought of seeing it on DVD...
It'll be like watching it for the first time...
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply THE BEST, October 7, 2005
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No synopsis can adequately describe this movie. On the surface

it is modern take on Voltaire's Candide but with ten times the

dark humour, bitter social satire and cynicism. I have seen that

movie when I was 16 and no other movie ever had equal effect on

me. It was liberating - like reading "Breakfast of Champions" or

"Slaughterhouse Five" for the first time.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful reissue at long last!, July 13, 2001
This review is from: O Lucky Man [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Like many other folks, I was profoundly moved by the film and music of O Lucky Man. Years later, when my wife finally saw the film I had talked about for so long, she offered the opinion that it was a little boys adolescent fantasy, and in retrospect, I think there is some truth in that.
I still think of it as an amazing bit of work, and was lucky enough to attend a seminar on it in Los Angeles, hosted by Lindsay Anderson and Malcom McDowell, in which we learned among other things that the song "My Home Town" had a sequence of someone attempting suicide, which Travis tries to stop by climbing a rain gutter and effect a rescue, only to have it tear away from the building at the last moment. Anderson discovered that even the original negative of the scene had been destroyed by Warners, who felt that film was too long, and ordered the cut. Anderson joked about the impact of a 3 minute scene on a movie that was already running at a "leisurely pace" and found a first generation print of the scene under his bed. That night was to be the first time the film was to be screened as it was intended. This was not to be, and although he hand carried a print of the scene to be spliced into the film for the night, somehow, it still never happened! Which led to a very funny, and pissed off director howling at Hollywood for it's classic ineptitude. I'm waiting for my VHS copy to arrive to see if the video release has the footage restored. I'm recalling this from memory, about 15 years ago.. so I hope I haven't made too serious a mistake here.
The music however is another matter. The integration of the Alan Price and his band into the film, the strength of the songwriting, made it one of my favorite albums. I've been searching for the Soundtrack on CD since the format was made public, but never found it. Till now! I was searching for something related to Alan Price, and there it was, a lovely reissue of the soundtrack on CD. Sound wise, this is an open and clean sounding reissue. The album always seemed to be mixed a bit on the low side, and this reissue allows the soundstage to emerge a bit more defined. Of course, since my LP has been played to death.. This is really a wonderful discovery.
Price is a funny musician, he has released albums that made him a bit of the darling of the upper class in the UK, and also lovely concept albums like "Between Today and Yesterday," and a great live album "Performing Price," none of which I've found on CD.
In contrast to former bandmate Eric Burdon, who followed a completely different career path, Price cut wonderful covers of songs like Randy Newman's "Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear" a far cry from his R&B roots.
I really love this album, and I agree with David Kinney in that this work stands on it's own even without the film. A side note is the updated liner notes by Malcolm McDowell, in which he says that he was amazed that this wasn't nominated for an Academy Award ... my thoughts exactly.
A trivia note, of which I only remember a bit.. was that there was a well known movie in the 80s, in which the main character, a woman (I keep thinking Lily Tomlin) has prominently displayed in her apartment, a copy of O Lucky Man. Maybe someone can remind us of the movie.. nice to know that other folks were listening to the album! Go ahead, buy this CD.. it's gonna stick to your ribs.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About time ..., September 19, 2007
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This review is from: O Lucky Man! (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
It's about time. Criterion finally released Lindsay Anderson's "If..." earlier this year and now the other shoe drops with "O Lucky Man!" Details of the extras are skimpy here. We just know its a two-disc set. I, for one, was hoping for the missing footage from the version said to have been shown at the Cannes Festival, where the film reputedly ran 3 hours and 20 minutes. Warners originally released the film in theaters in the US with a reel toward the end (and one of Price's songs) excised but restored the film to its 3-hour running time when it released the VHS edition. What happened to the missing 20 minutes from the Cannes version? Perhaps the mystery will be solved in Malcolm's commentary. By the way, it appears we have Malcolm to thank for pressuring Warners to put the film on DVD (though I would have prefered Criterion had taken it on). Many of the other principles having died, he was approached to do a commentary track for the new DVD and HD-DVD editions of "Clockwork Orange" and said he'd do that if he could do a commentary track on "O Lucky Man!" Thank you, Malcolm!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great and largely unknown classic from the 70's, August 7, 2007
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This review is from: O Lucky Man! (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
This is simply one of my favorite films. It is unique, and yet to watch it is to see something that was very typical of films in the early 1970's - film trying to reflect in some way upon the world as it exists or is heading. Then came CGI and the cartoonish escapist fantasies that comprise the vast number of films we have today. This film really requires multiple viewings to get it, and that is why I am so glad it is finally coming out on DVD. It basically follows the moral journey of an initially smiling coffee salesman (Malcolm McDowell) as he has his ideals smashed one by one. McDowell was himself a coffee salesman as a young man, and the whole film is from an original idea and script of his very own. I think it does a perfect job of describing the 1970's, which was basically a bridge decade between the idealistic 1960's and the "If it doesn't contribute to the bottom line then it's expendable" mode of thinking that began in the 1980's and just gets more entrenched as time passes. This film isn't for everyone, and although the two movies have completely different storylines, I'd say if you liked "Harold and Maude" you'll like this one too. The following are the extra features on the film as described by a press release from Warner Home Video.

Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation
English Mono
English and French subtitles
Commentary by Malcolm McDowell, Alan Price and Screenwriter David Sherwin
New Feature-Length Career Profile "O Lucky Malcolm!" Produced/Directed by Jan Harlan, Edited by Katia de Vidas
Vintage Featurette "O Lucky Man! Innovations in Entertainment"
Theatrical Trailer
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Number One All-Time Favorite Movie, August 21, 2007
This review is from: O Lucky Man! (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
As a previous reviewer mentioned, this movie repays repeated viewings, which is quite a goal for a three hour film. When you do, watch for all of the multiple roles that most of the actors play (even Malcolm McDowell plays a different character in the black & white film that runs at the beginning). One of my favorite aspects of the film is Alan Price's soundtrack. The songs (which relate very well to the action in the movie) are not only played in a studio by the Alan Price combo throughout the story, the band is actually part of the plot!! The director's cameo at the end of the film is one of the most clever in the history of cinema. And I would be very remiss if I did not mention the extremely lovely Helen Mirren in one of her early film roles. My thirty-plus year-old crush on Ms. Mirren started with this movie.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lindsay Anderson + Malcolm McDowell + Alan Price = O, Lucky Me!, August 1, 2006
By 
Galina (Virginia, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: O Lucky Man [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"Everyone is going through changes - No one knows what's going on. -And everybody changes places-But the world still carries on." (Alan Price)

"O Lucky Man!" (1973), directed by Lindsay Anderson (with Ralph Richardson, Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren) is a constant source of joy when I watch it again and again. Off I go with Mick Travis (McDowell) in his crazy surreal journey up and down, back and forth, "around the world in circles" along with the Alan Price's band that provide the music commentaries in the traditions of a Greek Chorus or Brecht's Theater (whichever you prefer). And in the end we find themselves in.... Well, can't tell you. You have to find out for yourself.

I saw it again recently, and it still stands as one of my favorite films. This time, though, I noticed that it was much darker than I remember. The good things and the bad things happen to our hero, Mick Travis, and I think that he really changed - he started to think more and smile less. The look on his face in the end of the move after asked to smile was not that charming, winning smile that he had in the beginning. It was pain, confusion, and anger.

Wonderful film - I am never tired of it. Even though, I know all the turns on the Mick's way to the top and back, it is still so interesting to watch him. I believe it was best McDowell's performance. I know that his most famous one was in Kubrick's Clockwork Orange but my favorite is the everyman Mick Travis who just wanted to succeed.

Young Helen Mirren was lovely as Patricia who traveled in her own crazy circles; the rest of the cast did great job, each of them playing more than one character.

Alan Price - I love his songs to the film very much. Possibly the best use of a rock soundtrack in a film. I am a proud CD owner and I listen to it constantly in my car. It is short, unfortunately.(sigh)

"O Lucky Man!" is one of the best unfairly forgotten films ever.

I remember when I saw it for the first time in the theater, I did not know anything about it - I just liked the title. The girl who was next in line to the box office said to me, "You will like it - it is a very cool movie, I saw it already." Where ever she is today - I want to thank her.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As brilliant and as memorable as Malcolm's other famous film, A Clockwork Orange...., October 31, 2007
This review is from: O Lucky Man! (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Let me join in here on the five star reviews. The people on this thread who love this film are not delusional or overrating this film. This is one of the greatest British films ever made, a truly unique experience in cinema. It is a long movie (roughly 3 hours), but the film is never boring. It is like a great novel, encompassing everything and still drawing you into Mick Travis's experience. There is so much to enjoy here, from Malcolm's excellent lead performance (his 2nd greatest behind A Clockwork Orange), the performances of some of the greatest British actors ever (in multiple roles, nonetheless). The list is astounding. We have Helen Mirren, Ralph Richardson, Arthur Lowe, Rachel Roberts, and Peter Jeffries, for starters. Warren Clarke, who played Dim in A Clockwork Orange, also appears as a valet and as a chaueffeur. Geoffrey Palmer (probably best known as the lead in the BBC series As Time Goes By) also shows up. The film is quite a journey, and it's one of those film experiences that will always remain with you.

And, the soundtrack. What a soundtrack! Alan Price (former keyboardist from The Animals) gives us here one of the greatest soundtracks in movie history, with some of the most poignant, funny, sardonic, and sad lyrics ever written for a film. It deserves special mention. Price also plays himself in the film (sort of), and he's great. The final song, O Lucky Man, is absolutely wonderful and the highlight of the soundtrack.

Anderson's direction is superb, as he keeps the film flowing so well, and draws brilliant performances from one of the greatest casts ever assembled. This is a truly great film, one that deserved every accolade and star it ever got (or will get)....
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O Lucky Man! (Two-Disc Special Edition)
O Lucky Man! (Two-Disc Special Edition) by Lindsay Anderson (DVD - 2007)
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