Movie Information

In Brief: Lindsay Anderson's landmark film If.... shook up world cinema, made a star of fairly obscure TV actor Malcolm McDowell and set Anderson on the road to creating his famous trilogy (If...., O Lucky Man!, Britannia Hospital). That's a pretty impressive accomplishment, but his tale of the resentment at an English boys school — for Anderson, a microcosm of British society — turning into open revolt captured the imagination as few films had done. It remains a powerful and disturbing film to this day.
Genre: Drama
Director: Lindsay Anderson (O Lucky Man!)
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, David Wood, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan
Rated: X

From the original review: Lindsay Anderson’s If…. (1968) introduced filmgoers to a young TV actor named Malcolm McDowell and led to what would ultimately be Anderson’s trilogy of films with McDowell’s character. If…. is one of the undisputed classics of modern British cinema. The story is simple: simmering resentment at an English boys’ school that ultimately turns into open, violent, bloody revolution. Anderson’s idea was to use this ultra-traditional microcosm of British society to make a larger, allegorical point about what was happening in the country (indeed, in a lot of countries) on a broader scale. At the time, the idea of a revolt at a boys’ school probably seemed almost like science fiction (despite the fact that the film’s roots are in Jean Vigo’s 1933 surrealist short feature Zéro de Conduite). Today, the story is all too believable, even if the surrounding conditions have altered a bit. Anderson’s is a bold film, and an angry one. There’s little of the humor that punctuates its more fanciful sequel, O Lucky Man! (1973), and not even much of the intensely bitter comedy of the final film in the set, Britannia Hospital (1982).

Full review:  http://avl.mx/u2

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present If…. Friday, June 7, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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9 thoughts on “If….

  1. Dionysis

    I recently watched this film again (the last time was maybe 10 or 12 years ago) and found that I actually liked it more than upon earlier viewings. I also re-watched (since my one and only viewing upon the initial theatrical release) of O Lucky Man! It did not improve for me. I recall not really caring much for it way back when, and still did not like it. Unfair as it may be, I had a very hard time getting through Alan Price’s music and ‘vocals’.

    I did like Britannia Hospital better, but neither (IMO) topped this first film.

  2. Ken Hanke

    O Lucky Man! is the gem of the three for me, but I realize it’s not going to please a lot of people and the percentage will go down astronomically if the person doesn’t like the songs.

  3. bsummers

    “Simplification” isn’t how I would describe that comment – “grotesque, gleeful and insane celebration of gun violence” are the words I might use…

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