Behind The Scenes Saturday: A Clockwork Orange

"A Clockwork Orange"
Malcolm McDowell
1971 Warner

Welcome back to Behind The Scenes Saturday! A Clockwork Orange will always be my favorite film directed by Stanley Kubrick. It’s such a controversial tale of violence, forgiveness, and redemption. It’s one of the most cinematically beautiful films I’ve ever laid eyes on!

(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)

(Pictures provided by google.com)

(SPOILER ALERT!!!)

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  • The sped-up sex scene between Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and two women was filmed as an unbroken take that lasted 28 minutes.
  • The film was originally four hours long, before director, Stanley Kubrick hired several assistant editors.
  • In order to film Alex’s torture scenes without feeling too much pain, Malcolm’s eyes were anesthetized. However, his corneas were repeatedly scratched by the metal lid locks that kept his eyes open. Once, his cornea was scratched so badly, he was temporarily blinded.
  • The doctor standing next to Alex while he was tortured was in fact a real doctor, who was there to make sure Malcolm’s eyes didn’t dry up.
  • All of the film’s unused footage was destroyed at Kubrick’s request by his assistant.

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  • Several years after the film’s release, Malcolm McDowell met Gene Kelly, star of Singin’ In The Rain (1952), Kelly walked away from Malcolm in disgust. Kelly was very upset about how his signature song was used in A Clockwork Orange.
  • When he realized Malcolm McDowell was afraid of reptiles, Kubrick made his character, Alex, have a pet snake, Basil. Kubrick did this because he wanted Alex to appear more intimidating, and the snake was used as a practical joke.
  • Filming the home invasion scene took four hours of experimenting because Kubrick felt the scene was too conventional. He eventually asked Malcolm McDowell to dance in the scene. Malcolm not only danced, he started to sing “Singin’ In The Rain”. It amused Kubrick so much, he bought the rights to the song for $10,000 just to use it in the film.
  • Malcolm McDowell decided not to do a Cockney accent and instead to speak with his normal Northern English accent. He did this because he felt his softer accent brought an interesting contrast with Alex’s sinister personality. It also helped him stand out amongst the other “Droogs”.
  • Although Alex was 17-19 years old in the film, Malcolm McDowell was 27 years old at the time of filming.

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  • Before filming the scene where he had to carry Patrick Magee’s (Mr. Alexander) wheelchair up the stairs, David Prowse (Julian) approached Kubrick and asked if they could do the scene in as few takes as possible due to the difficulty of the scene. Prowse added, “You’re not exactly known  as ‘one-take-Kubrick’, are you?” The crew was shocked that he talked to Stanley Kubrick like that. However, Kubrick laughed it off and promised he’d do his best. They ended up filming the scene in only six takes, but Prowse was still near exhaustion after repeatedly carrying Magee’s wheelchair down the stairs.
  • Before the rape scene, Adrienne Corri (Mrs. Alexander) approached Malcolm McDowell and told him, “Well, Malcolm, today you’re going to find out I’m a real redhead”.
  • The novel’s author, Anthony Burgess was raised a strict Roman Catholic. He wrote this novel as a parable about Christian free will and forgiveness. His original take on it was that a true Christian would forgive even the most horrifying acts. This was something Burgess knew well, as he saw his wife assaulted and beaten by American soldiers during World War II. The attack made her miscarry and brought her a lifetime of gynecological problems.
  • Malcolm McDowell was delighted that Kubrick couldn’t shout “Cut” during the threesome scene until it was over. Malcolm realized he could do whatever he wanted during the take. When Alex carried the girls to the bed a second time, it was improvised by McDowell. Kubrick, irritated, shouted off-camera “That’s enough, Malcolm! That’s enough!”
  • During the scene where Mr. Deltoid (Aubrey Morris) spits in Alex’s face, Steven Berkoff was actually the one who was spitting. They filmed several takes, and Morris told Kubrick that he ran out of saliva. Berkoff volunteered to step in and they finally got the perfect spit-shot.

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  • Malcolm McDowell came up with Alex’s last name, DeLarge. The book contains a part where Alex calls himself “Alex The Large”, it’s been speculated that’s where McDowell got the name.
  • Some of the deleted scenes include:
  1. The Droogs attacking a man who was carrying library books. The actor playing the man died so the scene was scrapped.
  2. The Droogs bribing old ladies with drinks and snacks into giving them an alibi.
  3. The Droogs stealing the Durango 95 we see them riding in.
  4. Alex taking the two women he sleeps with out for a meal at Pasta Parlour.
  5. The two women sneaking out of Alex’s house and getting caught by Alex’s dad.
  • Alex playfully popping open his mouth for food was improvised by McDowell. Kubrick became bored while filming the scene, and McDowell started to act silly in order to keep everyone’s attention focused.
  • The ending of the novel is very different from the film. In the film, Alex starts to go back to his menacing ways. In the novel, he genuinely wants to be a good person, to get a wife, and stop being a “menace to society”.
  • During the humiliating stage scene, Malcolm McDowell’s rib was accidentally cracked. McDowell also suffered a blood clot.

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