No less than an epic look at society is created in Lindsay Anderson’s third and most provocative film. It is in the form of a human comedy on a perky, ambitious but conformist young man using society’s ways to get to the top.
Malcolm McDowell, though practically on screen throughout, displays a solid grasp of character and nuances. He is first a salesman, then guinea pig to science, assistant to a great business tycoon, railroaded to prison as a fall guy, converted to near saintliness, almost martyred and then returned to conformism by an almost mystical reaching of understanding through a Zen-Buddhist-like happening.
The film bows to various film greats but always assimilated to Anderson’s own brand of epic comedy. The music and songs of AlanPrice also add by underlining and counterpointing the action.
Ralph Richardson gives his pointed aplomb to the rich man and as a wise old tailor who gives the hero a golden suit; Rachel Roberts is a sexy personnel chief, rich society mistress and a poverty row housefrau who commits suicide with expert balance in all. In fact, all are good, especially Helen Mirren as the way-out rich girl and Arthur Lowe as an unctous African potentate.