I want to preface by saying I am a Malcolm McDowell fan. Have been since I saw "A Clockwork Orange" many, many years ago.
I finally got around to seeing two of his first films. if... (1968) his first feature film, and O Lucky Man (1973) which was based on an idea that he had.
if.... an alegory tale, is centered around a boys private boarding school in England. Malcolm's character, Michael (Mick) Travis, was one of the older, rebellious boys, who along with his mates, seek revenge on the school and the establishment in general. Themes of homosexuality, corporal punishment and extreame violence run through this movie.
If I was to say that I 'Got It', I would be lying. I got parts of it, most of it went over my head. I think this is because 1) it took place in 1960s England and 2) I don't often get dark British humour, despite my anglophilia. To say that Malcolm was brill in this would be a stretch, he put forth a great effort, but I will forgive him, as he was still cutting his teeth.
I only give if... 3 out of 5 stars. It wouldn't be fair for me to grade it lower, as I said, I didn't get it. I'm sure Brits understand everything that was symbolized here.
O Lucky Man was made five years later. And I will start by saying that I liked this one much more. Based on an idea by McDowell, his character Michael (Mick) Travis is a coffee sales man in England. I want to also say, I'm not sure if this is supposed to be the same Mick Travis from if...,
but if that was the case, this character was more likeable. I liked him from the start.
He was brill in this for sure. Everything about this movie was wonderful. Mick starts out as a coffee sales man in England, and through his ambition and general likability he works his way up the coffee chain and branches out to other fields. He has the luck of the Irish, but what do they say "What goes up, must come down". And when Mick comes down, he falls hard. But then he picks himself up again, and falls down again, and picks himself up again...you get the picture.
McDowell's acting has improved from his first movie until this one. He was flawless and this movie was a lot of fun. It is satire, and dark, and I got most of it. I recommend this film. But I would say that although it is not a pre-requisite to watch if... first, it might help.
Besides, who can resist Malcolm in a white suit. Him and his white suits, gotta love it.
I give O Lucky Man 4 out of 5 stars.