391 If....

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Satyajit's Son
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391 If....

#1 Post by Satyajit's Son » Tue May 02, 2006 5:29 am

If....

Image [img]http://criterion_production.s3.amazonaws.com/release_images/1199/391_box_348x490_w128.jpg[/img]

Lindsay Anderson's If.... is a daringly anarchic vision of British society set in a boarding school in late sixties England. Before Kubrick made his mischief iconic in A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell made a hell of an impression as insouciant Mick Travis, who, along with his school chums trumps authority at every turn, finally turning violent savior against the draconian games of one-upmanship played by both students and the powers-that-be. Mixing color and black-and-white as audaciously as it mixes fantasy and reality, If.... remains one of cinema's most unforgettable rebel yells.

SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES

• New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek and assistant editor Ian Rakoff (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
• Audio commentary featuring film critic and historian David Robinson and actor Malcolm McDowell
• A 2003 episode from the Scottish TV series Cast and Crew about If...., featuring interviews with McDowell, Ondricek, director's assistant Stephen Frears, producer Michael Medwin, and screenwriter David Sherwin
Thursday's Children (1955), Anderson's Academy Award winning breakthrough documentary about a school for deaf children, co-directed by Guy Brenton and narrated by Richard Burton
• New video interview with actor Graham Crowden
• Original theatrical trailers
• PLUS: A booklet featuring pieces by critic David Ehrenstein, screenwriter David Sherwin, and director Lindsay Anderson

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Ashirg
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#2 Post by Ashirg » Tue May 02, 2006 6:09 am

Satyajit's Son wrote:Who owns the rights to this film and why the hell hasn't anyone released it on DVD?
Paramount

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david hare
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#3 Post by david hare » Tue May 02, 2006 6:41 am

Lawdy , dont get me started!

This is one of Andersons and British cinemas best fllms, and another sublime gay movie.

Keep emailing Paramount.

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Ste
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#4 Post by Ste » Tue May 02, 2006 9:11 am

If memory serves, didn't Malcolm McDowell record a commentary track for if.... several years ago? It was all set to go, then Paramount had second thoughts and shelved it. Apparently, they felt it would be 'politically insensitive', or something, to release the film on DVD in the wake of Columbine, Sept. 11th, etc.

It is amazing that a) a 38-year-old British art film, shot in a mish-mash of colour and B&W, could still be considered so potent, and b) they think a bunch of gun-toting rednecks and Islamic fundamentalists are going to even see it.
davidhare wrote:... and another sublime gay movie.
How is it "gay", exactly? Sure, there are undercurrents of sexuality among the brutality of the British boarding school system (lest we forget, this is where the term 'fag' originated), but it's hardly Brokeback Mountain, is it? Explain yourself, please!

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Gregory
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#5 Post by Gregory » Tue May 02, 2006 11:34 am

From the Mobius message board, via Fletch in our own thread on Warner's Kubrick Collection:
Malcolm McDowell gave a 2hr talk in Melbourne last week (at the launch of the ACMI Stanley Kubrick exhibition) and spoke at length about his career. He did throw some hints to the audience that should be of interest to folks on this board. McDowell mentioned how he had been trying to get Lindsay Anderson's IF - among other titles from his back catalogue - onto DVD with a commentary by him, but had no luck until a recent oneoff screening organised by Jay Roach led to the studio that currently owns IF contacting him. McDowell bemoaned the difficulties in pursuading various studios to release certain older films, and mentioned a recent illustrative story. McDowell was contacted more recently to record a commentary for a particular Stanley Kubrick movie (no prizes for guessing which one) and responded that he would record a commentary for THAT film only if the studio would agree to let him record a commentary for a certain Lindsay Anderson film - made two years later - that he remains very fond of. The studio agreed. McDowell has recorded both commentaries. Both titles should be coming out next year.

McDowell's talk was a good one, and fans of his work should enjoy the above news if true.

So there's a chance we'll see O Lucky Man! in R1 before If...

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Ste
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#6 Post by Ste » Tue May 02, 2006 12:44 pm

This snippet from a 2002 interview with Paramount DVD producer Lancelot Narayan:
I've just got back from L.A., where we recorded a commentary with Malcolm McDowell for an upcoming DVD of Lindsay Anderson's "If...."
The full article (which mostly concerns Peter Collinson's The Italian Job) can be found here.

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godardslave
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#7 Post by godardslave » Tue May 02, 2006 2:36 pm

Clever boy, that Malcolm McDowell. Heroic even.

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#8 Post by david hare » Tue May 02, 2006 5:47 pm

Ste I understand the term "fag" or "faggot" meaning gay came from the faggots of wood used to burn witches and other heretics during times of reliious persecution. "Fagging" in the English boarding school sense has another etymology altogether.

Not only is If filled with gay sensibility, so is its anarchic inspiration, Zero de Conduite with the gay kid (coded as "effeminate") leading the boys' riot and origastic duck feather finale, complete with nude scene.

solent

#9 Post by solent » Tue May 02, 2006 8:02 pm

My "hippy" English teacher in high school [1974] had the wit and cheekiness to tape this film and show it us in class. That is the first time I saw it and I have loved it ever since. As a 14-year-old I found it surreal but realistic at the same time [note: the shaking hands with the vicar-in-the-draw scene]. What really hit home with me was the anti-authoritarian flavour of it all. Despite being a 60s film it still resonated in the 70s and still does today. It's a serious film that doesn't take itself too seriously.

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#10 Post by david hare » Tue May 02, 2006 8:11 pm

I feel the "terrorist" ending is meant very seriously, even if presented surreally/hyper-really. The movie's entire momentum builds up to a full-on attack on the British Class system. Very similar in tone to Daria's apocalyptic desturction of the house and its contents in Zabriskie Point. If only Britannia Hospital and O Lucky Man had been anywhere near as good. I think If... is the last of Anderson's great films (maybe This Sporting Life is his best.)

More on gay. McDowell's buddy (John?) is obviously having a relationship with the younger boy (they are seen sleeping together, and eyeing each other off in gym class etc.) Indeed they complement McDowell and Noonan ("the Girl".)

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zedz
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#11 Post by zedz » Tue May 02, 2006 10:03 pm

davidhare wrote:If only Britannia Hospital and O Lucky Man had been anywhere near as good. I think If... is the last of Anderson's great films (maybe This Sporting Life is his best.)
Oh, I think O Lucky Man! is a pretty terrific film, as audacious in its own idiosyncratic way as If. . ., though it didn't have the good fortune to coincide with a sympathetic historical moment. I also think it might be the best illustration we have of what made McDowell such a unique film actor.

Britannia Hospital also seems to improve with each viewing, though it's been some time since I last saw it. In this case, part of Anderson's problem seems to be that he's ahead of his time - the film seems like it belongs to the tail-end of Thatcherism, not its outset.

It's definitely the least of the Mick Travis films, but even Anderson's weakest efforts (such as The White Bus, The Whales of August or Glory, Glory) are cherishable and should be available.

At least the beautiful new Free Cinema set is a start.

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#12 Post by Faux Hulot » Wed May 03, 2006 12:01 am

davidhare wrote:I feel the "terrorist" ending is meant very seriously, even if presented surreally/hyper-really.
It's been almost 20 years since I read what Anderson himself had to say about this so I may be misrepresenting, but I seem to recall him discussing how it was meant to be understood as commentary about the types of characters portrayed, and the seriousness with which they view themselves, not as some sort of call to arms (the release of the film coinciding with the 68 French student protests, for instance, being purely coincidental). The prevasive use of Brechtian devices in the subsequent O Lucky Man! underscores this approach to the Mick Travis character (and the Crusaders as a whole; just look at how Anderson uses the "Missa Luba" to comment on their earnestness), and is presaged here by, for instance, the fact that the ending is deliberate homage to Jean Vigo's Zéro de Conduite (Zero for Conduct).

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#13 Post by david hare » Wed May 03, 2006 4:33 am

Hulot this is true, but the effect on late teen/early twenties viewers like me when this, and ZP and other "radical" movies were released was undeniably rousing.

I am neither ashamed nor embarassed by my reactions then, and now frankly, to "fuck the bourgeoisie" and the world order. I'm just wishing it was happening again! The world of governance we are living in now is even worse and more corrupt than it was in 1968 when we were burning draft cards, pelting cops with stones at anti racist demos and trying - hopelessly obviously, to change la societe. (I'm old now but still angry.)

Also - never trust the artist, examine the work. The later two films are deadly, and it took British cinema until Frears to get an artist who really captured all the ambiguities and horrors of that legacy she's left us all.

EDIT This movie was so popular in Oz during the late 60s the Missa Luba track spawned its way onto top 40s, serious University courses (I was doing one, and am a trained musician) and into popular consciousness. In fact it became a rallying call to Oz voters to finally throw out the conservative cunts in 1972 during the TV advertising campaign!

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Faux Hulot
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#14 Post by Faux Hulot » Wed May 03, 2006 12:06 pm

davidhare wrote:Hulot this is true, but the effect on late teen/early twenties viewers like me when this, and ZP and other "radical" movies were released was undeniably rousing...
Fair enough David, I suppose I wasn't clear about what you meant by "taking it seriously." I was in college myself when I saw the Travis films (albeit in the mid-80s) and they made a deep impression, both politically and aesthetically. In that sense I'm in complete agreement with you, and I'd like to see more bold contemporary work of the caliber of Anderson's -- hell, with even half his combination of imagination, intellegence and artistry -- attacking the status quo head-on.

And I wish I could've seen that '72 TV advert!

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#15 Post by tryavna » Wed May 03, 2006 12:12 pm

zedz wrote:
davidhare wrote:If only Britannia Hospital and O Lucky Man had been anywhere near as good. I think If... is the last of Anderson's great films (maybe This Sporting Life is his best.)
Oh, I think O Lucky Man! is a pretty terrific film, as audacious in its own idiosyncratic way as If. . ., though it didn't have the good fortune to coincide with a sympathetic historical moment. I also think it might be the best illustration we have of what made McDowell such a unique film actor.

Britannia Hospital also seems to improve with each viewing, though it's been some time since I last saw it. In this case, part of Anderson's problem seems to be that he's ahead of his time - the film seems like it belongs to the tail-end of Thatcherism, not its outset.
I agree with your sentiments about both films, Zedz. Britannia Hospital clearly lacks the uniqueness of the other two -- covering much the same ground as Chayefsky-Hiller's The Hospital -- but I've always felt that it's actually wrong to think of it as a Mick Travis movie. McDowell's character is certainly not the primary focus; instead, Anderson seems to be operating in an Altman-like mode. If you don't already know, Anchor Bay gave us a fairly decent release of this movie some years ago.

O Lucky Man! is another matter entirely, though. I probably rate if... slightly higher, but OLM is an exhilerating masterpiece, imo. The basic idea (to update Candide and base the episodes around the different regions of Britain), the score, the actors reappearing in multiple roles (including Ralph Richardson as one of the cruelest yet most believable villains of the 1970s), and of course the self-reflexive and pitch-perfect ending -- all genius!

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zedz
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#16 Post by zedz » Wed May 03, 2006 7:04 pm

tryavna wrote: O Lucky Man! is another matter entirely, though. I probably rate if... slightly higher, but OLM is an exhilerating masterpiece, imo. The basic idea (to update Candide and base the episodes around the different regions of Britain), the score, the actors reappearing in multiple roles (including Ralph Richardson as one of the cruelest yet most believable villains of the 1970s), and of course the self-reflexive and pitch-perfect ending -- all genius!
My favourite among the two seems to depend on which one I've seen most recently. Maybe because they're so different from one another, and so different from anything else. I ran into O Lucky Man! first, on television, when I was about nine (talk about a what-the-fuck-was-that? epiphany).

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#17 Post by godardslave » Wed May 03, 2006 9:39 pm

Speaking for myself (lol), I'd watched the complete works of Ozu by age 7.

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#18 Post by Donald Trampoline » Thu May 04, 2006 5:15 pm

Getting this thread back to its stated topic, Netflix now lists both "If..." and "O Lucky Man" as titles you can "SAVE." Might be a good sign as they did not appear on their site in this fashion before.

Although occasionally there used to be an extremely small number of random titles you could "SAVE" on Netflix that were not coming out, such as von Sternberg's The Last Command and Underworld (which are still listed as things you can "SAVE"), in more recent times things have not just been spontaneously appearing like this without a likely release coming soon in my experience.

(Also suddenly appearing in this fashion are Borzage's 7th Heaven, Street Angel and Bad Girl, as well as Lubitsch's The Patriot. Although don't get too excited, since in all cases "Release date is unknown.")

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zedz
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#19 Post by zedz » Thu May 04, 2006 5:42 pm

Donald Trampoline wrote:Getting this thread back to its stated topic, Netflix now lists both "If..." and "O Lucky Man" as titles you can "SAVE." Might be a good sign as they did not appear on their site in this fashion before.

Although occasionally there used to be an extremely small number of random titles you could "SAVE" on Netflix that were not coming out, such as von Sternberg's The Last Command and Underworld (which are still listed as things you can "SAVE"), in more recent times things have not just been spontaneously appearing like this without a likely release coming soon in my experience.

(Also suddenly appearing in this fashion are Borzage's 7th Heaven, Street Angel and Bad Girl, as well as Lubitsch's The Patriot. Although don't get too excited, since in all cases "Release date is unknown.")
I think that last paragraph is a giveaway that you can't read anything into this (The Patriot is famously a 'lost film'). Maybe Netflix just creates these as a response to repeated requests for unavailable films?

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#20 Post by Ishmael » Thu May 04, 2006 5:57 pm

zedz wrote:
Donald Trampoline wrote:Maybe Netflix just creates these as a response to repeated requests for unavailable films?
I'm sure that's the answer. Contrary to what DT is stating, Netflix throws up all kinds of SAVE titles when no DVD is immanent or even likely. Berlin Alexanderplatz appeared fairly recently, for example, but there are tons of others. They also like to keep titles that are completely out of print up as SAVES, along with titles that are in print but which they don't seem to have any interest in acquiring. I've been watching this trend for years, and I can tell you that those titles mean absolutely nothing for subscribers. I'm sure Netflix sells information to rights holders about how many people have put those titles in their queue. It's a good way to get some cheap, easy market research. A couple months ago, they started posting a little disclaimer on the page of each SAVED title which basically verifies what I'm saying here.

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#21 Post by Argonaut69 » Thu May 04, 2006 5:59 pm

<Not only is If filled with gay sensibility, so is its anarchic inspiration, Zero de Conduite with the gay kid (coded as "effeminate") leading the boys' riot and origastic duck feather finale, complete with nude scene.>

This film is long, long overdue for a Criterion release. Not only is it not available on DVD in any form but there was supposedly an uncut version that made the festival rounds a few years ago. It's certainly my favorite Lindsay Anderson film and the connection with Zero De Conduite is most apparent.

I was pleased to see the gay content so upfront in watching it again although this aspect is merely incorporated into the overall youth vs. authority text of the film. The two boys having the relationship are merely one example of various individuals and couples who are oppressed by the public boarding school system.

Another interesting gay connection, one of the leads in the film is Richard Warwick who appeared in Zeffirelli's 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, Derek Jarman's Sebastiane and the TV adaptation of The Lost Language of Crane's. He died of AIDS in 1997 at the age of 52.

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#22 Post by david hare » Thu May 04, 2006 9:05 pm

grczire what are you referring to by "cut"? I know it suffered slight cuts on first US release for frontal nudity, but the Brit print has always been complete in that respect.

Richard Warwick was such a doll - such a loss.

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Gordon
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#23 Post by Gordon » Fri May 05, 2006 2:12 am

Was the new print of If.... that did the rounds a few years back, distributed by Paramount or was it the BFI? You would have thought that a DVD would have followed hot on the heels of that re-issue.

Fucking Paramount lazy cunts hurry up for fuck's sake Jesus Christ. :x

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#24 Post by david hare » Fri May 05, 2006 4:30 am

YOU talkin to ME!!!!

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#25 Post by Narshty » Tue Feb 13, 2007 6:49 pm

Don't look now, but the whole thing's on YouTube in 12 chunks.

Part one

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