O Lucky Man!

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O Lucky Man!
O Lucky Man!.jpg
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Produced by Lindsay Anderson
Michael Medwin
Malcolm McDowell
Albert Finney
David Sherwin
Screenplay by David Sherwin
Story by Malcolm McDowell
Starring Malcolm McDowell
Ralph Richardson
Rachel Roberts
Arthur Lowe
Helen Mirren
Graham Crowden
Dandy Nichols
Music by Alan Price
Cinematography Miroslav Ondříček
Editing by David Gladwell
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • 20 June 1973 (1973-06-20)
Running time 184 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English

O Lucky Man! is a 1973 British comedy-drama fantasy film, intended as an allegory on life in a capitalist society. Directed by Lindsay Anderson, it stars Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis, whom McDowell had first played as a disaffected public schoolboy in his first film performance in Anderson's film if.... (1968). The film was entered into the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.[2]


Mick Travis, a salesman for the Imperial Coffee Company, has a series of accidental adventures, seemingly of both good and bad fortune. He stumbles upon top secret experiments, is befriended by musicians (Alan Price and his band, who perform songs throughout the film), becomes assistant to a business tycoon, is framed by him for fraud, and is sent to prison.

Travis finishes his sentence as a model prisoner, and converts to Humanism. He faces a series of assaults upon his new-found idealism, even being attacked by a horde of homeless people he'd been helping to feed.

He eventually comes to film a screen test for director Lindsay Anderson himself. He is given props from if.... to pose with, including a stack of schoolbooks and a machine gun. When told to smile, Travis repeatedly asks, "What's there to smile about?" Anderson finally slaps Travis in the head with the script. After a cut to black, a slow smile appears on his face.

In the final scene, the whole cast dances joyously as the title song is performed by Alan Price.


Many of the actors play several roles.


The film originally began as a script written by McDowell about his experiences as a coffee salesman in his late teens and early 20s. Anderson was unhappy with this treatment, and David Sherwin worked on the script. Sherwin though was undergoing personal problems at the time, which necessitated Anderson writing a few scenes himself, a skill he did not feel he had. Anderson found working with Czech cinematographer Miroslav Ondříček much less rewarding than he had on if..... He also doubted his own skills as a director during the film's making, and felt that the film had insufficient preparation. The role of Patricia was recast during production. Originally, Fiona Lewis, best known for appearing in several horror films around this time, played the role.[3]

Britannia Hospital (1982) completes the trilogy of films featuring Mick Travis,[4] which also sees the return of Dr Millar.


According to Alan Price, Lindsay Anderson had been frustrated in his efforts to make a documentary featuring Price and his band about touring in England because of the prohibitive cost to license the cover songs they frequently performed. As David Sherwin and Malcolm McDowell developed the script, Anderson decided Price should write the score and sent him the script, indicating where he would like songs to appear; nearly all the songs were written in advance of filming.[5] Anderson conceived of Price's role as a kind of Greek Chorus, both commenting on and finally appearing as part of the action.

  1. "O Lucky Man!"
  2. "Poor People"
  3. "Sell Sell"
  4. "Pastoral"
  5. "Arrival"
  6. "Look Over Your Shoulder"
  7. "Justice"
  8. "My Home Town"
  9. "Changes"
  10. "O Lucky Man!"


The film received a mixed-to-negative review in The New York Times, with Vincent Canby saying "Staying with it through its almost three-hour running time becomes increasingly nerve-racking, like watching superimposed images that never synchronize. The result does not match the ambition of the intention. The wit is too small, too perfunctory, for the grand plan of the film and the quality of the production itself."[6] As of March 2011, it has an 82% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which indicates that the film has received positive reviews in the following years of its release.[7]

Versions and home media[edit]

A number of different edits exist, with some American prints removing around twenty minutes including the working class parody suicide just before the conclusion of the film. Even both British VHS releases delete at least one scene present in the BBC broadcast of the film (Travis testing his status in the home of his industrialist patron) in the early eighties. The Swedish cut of the film runs only 168 minutes, eliminating 15 minutes of the film.

A 2-disc special edition Region 1 DVD was released 30 October 2007.


  1. ^ "O LUCKY MAN (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 1973-04-25. Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: O Lucky Man!". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  3. ^ The preceding paragraph is drawn from Paul Sutton (ed) Lindsay Anderson: The Diaries, 2004, London: Methuen, p256-306
  4. ^ "O Lucky Man! overview". AllMovie.com. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  5. ^ Price, Alan (score) (2007-10-30). O Lucky Man! (DVD audio commentary track). Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. 
  6. ^ "O Lucky Man! :English Comedy Tells of a Classic Innocent," Vincent Canby, The New York Times, 14 June 1973
  7. ^ O Lucky Man on RottenTomatoes.com

External links[edit]