Wham In China
The Whales Of August
If…. still works exactly as if it had been made today (the cinematography by Miroslav Ondricek is particularly good). I’ve watched it recently with a 14yo and he loved it too. It’s like Harry Potter for him; for me, having been at Westminster only 9 years later, very real.
I 1st saw If…. when I was 14, an English teacher having told us to watch it (it was on the BBC). While I don’t think I was of a mass-murdering persuasion, I rehearsed in my mind the massacre at the end whenever (3 times a week) I came out of ‘Abbey’, down the cloisters. I would have been Johnny (David Wood); Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) would have been Tom Madge, the school rebel, who liked Millie Jackson at a time when we were just getting into New Wave, and who left Westminster to go to Pimlico for 6th form.
This Sporting Life is possibly the best British 1st feature ever made (tied with Sexy Beast?). Richard Harris is often criticised as being too Brando, but imagine if Brando had really been cast as Frank Machin, rugby league player? It would have been preposterous! So – at least in this film – Harris is so much better, surely? And Rachel Roberts is fantastic. But it is a bit long at 2 hours 14 minutes.
O Lucky Man has a few good bits but at 2 hours 58 minutes is MASSIVELY too long. Malcolm McDowell just grins his silly grin and Arthur Lowe wears blackface! Bizarrely, it gets 7.8 on IMDb while If…. gets 7.6! If anyone can explain this, please do.
I’ve also been reading Going Mad In Hollywood by David Sherwin, screenwriter of If…. An excellent and truthful If VERY depressing account of 30 years of scripting. What for? you may well ask. We have to do SOMETHING…
2 revelations: Jon Voight is barking mad; and Travis Bickle was named – Scorsese tells Sherwin – after Mick Travis.