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Midnight Movie: A Clockwork Orange


Malcolm McDowell looking for a bit of the ultra violence in A Clockwork Orange (Warner Bros.)

A friend of mine was saying that if he had to choose one decade for the movies he simply couldn't live without, that decade would be the 70s. I wasn't so sure (I don't think I could live with the Marx Brothers from the 30s or film noir from the 40s). But one film from the 70s that ranks as one of the most audacious is Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. This Friday and Saturday (May 2 and 3) at midnight, Kubrick's brilliant adaptation of Anthony Burgess' chilling futuristic novel will screen at Landmark's La Jolla Village Theaters. It's hard to imagine a film like this being made today by a major, mainstream Hollywood studio, but in the 70s it was a possibility. One thing I remember about the film was that it was rated X on its initial release but the rating was reduced to an R after about 60 seconds were removed. The irony for me was that with all the violence, sex, a brutal rape and murder, the scene that was removed in order to get the MPAA to alter the rating was the sped up, energetically funny orgy scene edited to the William Tell Overture. Apparently enjoying sex is more offensive than beating up old men or raping women. Hmmm? Makes you think about those MPAA standards. Anyway, A Clockwork Orange is not only memorable for Kubrick's meticulous attention to every detail of his bizarre futuristic Britain but also for Malcolm McDowell's nasty and unnerving portrait of the sociopathic youth Alex. Just that photo above with him looking you right in the eye is unsettling. This film represents the way filmmakers were regularly pushing the envelope and raising social issues in the 70s. This one's a classic. If you've never seen it, don't miss it on the big screen.

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