April 30, 2008

O Lucky Man!

By: Sonny Bunch

Interesting look at O Lucky Man! over at The House Next Door. I kind of ignored O Lucky Man! in my Lindsay Anderson retrospective a couple months ago, which was too bad; it’s a great flick (some technical difficulties impeded my acquisition of the DVD in time…I was discussing it from five year old memories). The movie, a striking collaboration between Anderson and Malcolm McDowell, follows a coffee salesman (Mick, played by McDowell) up and down the British countryside as he peddles his wares and encounters the nation’s ruling classes. Indignities are heaped upon the protagonist, culminating in his frame-up at the hands of one of Britain’s wealthiest men–a businessman he idolized but was warned to stay away from (by the businessman’s own daughter).

Why does the businessman–a knight, a pillar of the community, a kindly patron thus far–sell his young ward down the river without a second’s hesitation? That’s where the discussion between Dave McDougall and someone else (Kevin B. Lee, I guess? I’m a newcomer to the series) begins as they break down the scene featuring McDowell’s betrayal. They never really get to an answer, though; one of the participants admits he finds the scene “to some degree frustrating to watch because I can’t know exactly why…he’s being betrayed.” But that’s just the point: Neither does Mick. Our lordly business man is using him and throwing him away solely because he can. Mick is merely grist for the mill of capitalism.

Otherwise it’s a good analysis of the scene, and I especially appreciated the breakdown of the character location; Mick serving as both the literal and the figurative front man for his boss is a pretty keen insight. And for those of you who have never seen O Lucky Man! (all of you, I’m sure), you should. (When you find three hours to spare. It’s long.)