O Lucky Man (1973)

This brilliant but strange and fascinating film by director Lindsay Anderson stars Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren and a raft of first-rate British character actors. It is a biting satire on the ruthlessness of the capitalist system in which McDowell plays a naïf who thinks that he can become rich by doing the will of wealthy people and thinks that they will show their gratitude by taking care of him and rewarding him, and ends up in one mess after another. It is an illusion shared by many today. I liked one gag where the graffiti on a wall has the message “Revolution is the opium of the intellectuals”.

Here’s the trailer.

The film is especially notable for an excellent original soundtrack by rocker Alan Price. In the film, Price himself appears as a character and sings some of the songs. Here is the title track. The man in the glasses and red shirt is Anderson.

I not only like the music, I find the words to be very congruent with my own views. Here are the words.

If you have a friend on whom you think you can rely you are a lucky man
If you’ve found the reason to live on and not to die you are a lucky man
Preachers and poets and scholars don’t know it
Temples and statues and steeples don’t show it
If you’ve got the secret just try not to blow it
Stay a lucky man, a lucky man.

If you’ve found the meaning of the truth in this old world you are a lucky man
If knowledge hangs around your neck like pearls instead of chains, you are a lucky man
Takers and fakers and talkers won’t tell you
Teachers and preachers will just buy and sell you
When no one can tempt you with heaven or hell
You’ll be a lucky man.

You’ll be better by far
To be just what you are
You can be what you want
If you are what you are
And that’s a lucky man.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    This was the second of Anderson’s Mick Travis trilogy, all starring McDowell. Preceded by If…., and followed by Britannia Hospital. If…. was my favourite.

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