Stanley Kubrick rarely did interviews and NEVER did a DVD commentary. Malcolm McDowell, who played the greatest Droogie in movies, and was stonewalled from Kubrick the moment the movie was done being shot, talks for the 2 hour plus running time of “A Clockwork Orange” without an interviewer and remains robustly entertaining. If you think that’s easy, listen to an Oliver Stone or John Carpenter commentary, where these guys can vanish for 5 to 10 minutes (hibernations in DVD commentary time).
The McDowell commentary is in fact one of the most informative documents on Stanley Kubrick out there. McDowell goes on and on about Stanley K. anecdotes, like the time he and Stanley had dinner and suddenly, the master starts eating desserts. When McDowell questions him, Stanley says, “it’s all going to wind up in the same place.” Or how Stanley essentially depended on McDowell to cast almost the entire movie (most of the thespians wound up in “Barry Lyndon” and some in “The Shining“).
“A Clockwork Orange” is saturated with British comedians, all dear friends of McDowell. All thanks to Kubrick getting obsessed over McDowell’s face and understanding, this was his star for this movie. McDowell even talks about how for years, he resented being recognized as the famous droogie, but as he got older, he realized how fortunate he was to be in a movie that wasn’t instantly forgotten when it was released (which McDowell emphasizes is the fate of 99.9% of movies, including the ones he’s acted in his entire career).
McDowell also talks about an “energy ball” that good actors understand. This “energy ball” can only be held by one actor in a scene. Although, he usually held it, he understood when for example Patrick McGee (the widower in the wheelchair took it) and he would lower his energy in the scene. I learned a ton listening to this commentary, and understood the making of one of the greatest films ever made more richly.
Written by: Norith Soth