Little Malcolm DVD+Blu-ray
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Directed by Stuart Cooper
Produced in 1974
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Superbly acted and evocatively filmed in a fantastically bleak 1970s Oldham, this is a very funny but ultimately unnerving study of the impotence of radical politics, says Julian Upton.
The BFI’s Flipside strand has unearthed another little belter in this highly faithful but subtly cinematic adaptation of David Halliwell’s 1965 stage play, a hilarious if unnerving satire on the impotence (literal and figurative) of radical politics.
John Hurt is Malcolm, an expelled art student and would-be revolutionary who, with a band of similarly deluded followers (John McEnery, Raymond Platt, David Warner), forms the Dynamic Erection Party, a neo-fascistic group intent on violently overthrowing the art school ‘status quo’.
Shot in a beautifully bleak 1970s Oldham by John Alcott (Stanley Kubrick’s favoured cinematographer), Little Malcolm was the first film financed by George Harrison, five years ahead of Handmade, yet clearly prefiguring that outfit’s taste for a defiantly British brand of black comedy (not least Withnail and I). It’s superbly acted: Hurt is terrific – bombastic and combative with his cohorts, tongue-tied and diffident with his would-be girlfriend – and the scene where the bespectacled and permanently duffle-coated Warner gives a grandiloquent, straight-faced account of his heroic sexual magnetism could be the funniest thing you’ll see all year.
Julian Upton on 18th October 2011
Author of 150 reviews
A mesmerising, furious performance from John Hurt is at the heart of Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs - a dark comedy about delusional revolutionary Malcolm Scrawdyke, leading his devoted followers Wick, Irwin and Nipple in a battle against an unseen nemesis. The film was financed by Beatle George Harrison, and is based on the play by David Halliwell that was first staged by Mike Leigh. Filmed on location in a bleak, wintry Oldham by director Stuart Cooper (Overlord; The Disappearance) and cinematographer John Alcott (2001; A Clockwork Orange).
Expelled art student Scrawdyke leads his Party of Dynamic Erection – with devoted followers Wick (John McEnery), Irwin (Raymond Platt) and Nipple (David Warner) – in an enraged battle against an unseen nemesis. Rosalind Ayres is both sensitive and ferocious as Malcolm’s would-be girlfriend Ann.
Based on the celebrated 1965 stage play by David Halliwell, Little Malcolm was filmed on location in bleak, wintry Oldham by Stuart Cooper with cinematographer John Alcott (A Clockwork Orange, The Shining).
Financed by George Harrison, who had admired John Hurt’s lead performance in the play at the Garrick Theatre in 1965 (and preceding the launch of Harrison’s HandMade Films by five years), Little Malcolm was winner of the Silver Bear at the 1974 Berlin Film Festival. Music is by Stanley Myers (The Deer Hunter) with incidental music by George Harrison, and the film also features performances by Harpoon and Splinter.
Length: 105 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen
Cat No: BFIB1123
Format: DVD+Blu-ray Colour
- 2 discs
- Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
- Original Little Malcolm trailer
- Put Yourself In My Place (Francine Winham, 1974): fraught gender relations trigger a startling role reversal in this polemical comedy starring Judy Geeson
- The Contraption (James Dearden, 1977): in a final act of defeat or defiance, a man (Richard O’Brien) builds a sinister contraption in a dark cellar
- Illustrated booklet featuring original artwork and contributions from Stuart Cooper, John Hurt, Mike Leigh (who directed the debut stage production of Halliwell’s play) and Yvonne Tasker.