March 31, 2016

"In the scene, the movie’s antihero, a thug played by Malcolm McDowell, barges into her home with three of his cronies..."

"... before they assault her husband and trash their house as Mr. McDowell belts 'Singin’ in the Rain.' Mr. McDowell cuts off Ms. Corri’s clothes, then tells her helpless husband to watch before he rapes her. Kubrick insisted that Ms. Corri appear naked for multiple takes. That scene and other violent and sexually explicit material initially earned the film an X rating in the United States. It remained controversial for years after its limited British release, drawing protests and news reports of alleged copycat crimes. Nevertheless, 'A Clockwork Orange' was nominated for four Oscars, including best picture, director and screenplay, in 1972."

From the obituary of Adrienne Corri, who died this month at the age of 84.

I went looking for more information about Corri's experience. I found this:
Adrienne Corri initially declined the role of Mrs. Alexander because Kubrick was getting applicants to de-bra in his office while he trained a video camera on them. She made it clear that wasn’t on. “But Adrienne, suppose we don’t like the tits?” “Tough.”
Little was accomplished during the first two days of shooting [the rape scene with Corri], but on the third day, Kubrick blocked out a portion of the action with McDowell, instructing him to knock [the actor Patrick] Magee to the floor and begin kicking his guts out. The director then suddenly asked McDowell, "Can you sing?" It was suggested that the actor could improvise a song-and-dance number while administering the savage beating. McDowell confessed that "Singin’ in the Rain" was the only tune he knew by heart. This resulted in what Kubrick calls the CRM, or "critical rehearsal moment," during which the director and actors come together to create a defining scene. Kubrick immediately looked into obtaining the rights to the song, and discovered that the fee was $10,000 to use it for 30 seconds. Once the rights were in hand, shooting proceeded immediately. Kubrick later invited Stanley Donen, the director of the musical classic, to view his scene and then asked Donen’s personal permission to use the song for the sequence. "He wanted to make sure I wasn’t offended," Donen reports in the biography Dancing on the Ceiling. "Why would I be? It didn’t affect the movie Singin’ in the Rain." Gene Kelly, who had performed the famous number in the 1952 film, felt otherwise. When Kelly and Kubrick met at an awards ceremony following Clockwork’s release, the danceman refused to talk to the director.


The Godfather said...

I always liked Gene Kelly.

Michael K said...

Never saw it.

I Mexican yachtsman named his racing boat "Orange Mechanique," Spanish for Clockwork Orange. That was about that time.

Laslo Spatula said...

I've always seen that scene in parallel with Malcolm McDowell's cafe scene in his previous film "If..."

I'm like a Tiger.

It is like what was play-acted in the first film becomes real in Clockwork.

Fascinating scene.

I am Laslo.

Michael said...

Absent the presence of Beethoven as a shadow character in the movie we are already living in Clockwork Orange. Substitute Biggie Smalls or 2 Chainz and Kubrick and Burgess had it spot on. Not quite as gritty as outworld but pretty close.

Jim Sweeney said...

I knew Gene Kelly. He was a gentleman and a mensch. This anecdote is exactly Gene.

Brando said...

Gene Kelly must have been so disillusioned with the movie business that he went on to do Xanadu.

Phil 314 said...

And the assault with the huge penis added to the overall effect.

I like Kubrick films (the ones I've seen) but each one leaves you depressed. Moralistic nihilism is depressing.

Phil 314 said...

PS I have reached my "Ten free articles".

Now go away, FREELOADER!

Graham Powell said...

That scene was one of the most disturbing I've ever watched, but I don't think it could have been done any other way. It was essential to the film.

Fandor said...

I remember taking my girlfriend to see CLOCKWORK ORANGE and she, like Gene Kelly, was greatly angered by the use of the song "Singing in the Rain" in such a vile scene. The movie for her was an abomination. And I, being a liberal minded advocate of the cinema's new direction, defended Kubrick's film as artistic. Well, we had quite a squabble about any artistic merits the film had; I praised the director, camera work, editing, performances and she said the experience a waste of time and the film a piece of glossy, sensationalized crap. We finally agreed to disagree.
It's been decades since that film was released. It's impact, along with many other like films, has taken us down to where we are now in what is considered entertainment.
Movies are filled with "ultra violence". Women and men are degraded in film after film. Rape on screen is more graphic. Pornagraphy is readily available on cable tv and computer screens. The culture is coarsened and we think nothing of it. Everyday language is in the gutter. So too, commentary on blogs, like yours, is out of control. Our anonymity keeps us from seeking our own better angels.
People are shouted down and labeled bigots, racists, homophobes ect, ect if they do not hold with current trendy political thinking.
Is it movies like CLOCKWORK ORANGE that are to blame for American society slouching towards Gomorrah?
Does anyone really think the world of entertainment, as it is today, has progressed because of Kudrick like directors and their visions of society?
You know, Gene Kelly and the studios of Hollywood's golden age may have been bunk, but they did present a more hopeful world.
Or, like James Cagney said in BOY MEETS GIRL, "Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, or love will find a way. Love never loses. Put your money on love."
Oh, yeah...forty some years later I have to admit, my girlfriend was right!

MadisonMan said...

I never saw A Clockwork Orange, although I enjoyed A Crockwork Lemon in Mad Magazine. Why the clamor to see stories involving rape, anyway? I've always wondered. Life sucks sometimes, sure -- but do I have to pay money to have that point driven home? I think not.

Maybe that's why I watch so few movies. Somehow movie-makers think a primary way to entertain people is to make them uncomfortable.

Robert Cook said...

"Is it movies like CLOCKWORK ORANGE that are to blame for American society slouching towards Gomorrah?"


When Shakespeare's plays were performed during the Bard's lifetime at the Globe Theater, the actors would wear bladders under their clothing containing animal blood and sometimes entrails so that in scenes of violence the action onstage would be literally gory.

Human societies have always been violent and corrupt, always "slouching toward Gomorrah." What makes this era seem worse than previous times is that we are living through it now.

Unknown said...

Hi, MadisonMan! Yes!! I, also, never saw the movie (age 54 now, so too young when it came out, and would stay away from content like that anyway.) But A Crockwork Lemon in Mad was great. My mother (Bryn Mawr '55) always said that between the New Yorker review and the Mad satire, she didn't have to go to the movies to stay au courant with new releases. I'd say the level of artistic accomplishment in Mad--everything from the writing, to the astonishingly elegant artwork, to the editorial voice--beats Stanley Kubrick!

By the way, good for Gene Kelly. And, totally agree with you--"do I have to pay money to have the point driven home? I think not."

DrMaturin said...

My favorite Malcolm McDowell movie is Time After Time, where he co-starred with Mary Steenburgen, who I've long had a crush on. Many fond memories associated with seeing that film.

Anonymous said...

Can't get that scene out of my head every time I hear "Singing in the Rain".

Bob Loblaw said...

Heh. I can't listen to Singin' in the Rain without thinking of that scene, so at least for me it very much did affect the movie.

McDowell always went for the weird roles. I thought he turned in a stellar performance for Caligula, which was both a serious movie and a porn flick.

Brando said...

I found that scene very disturbing (and the song made it more eerie), as with all rape scenes, but I think it was necessary because we really needed to see that Alex wasn't just a tough street kid that we could root for but rather a vicious menace so that the "correction" in the latter part of the film would be a lot more thought provoking.

Incidentally, I have the British version of the book with the last chapter which sort of changes the whole tone (making him outgrow his criminal tendencies, as it was a part of his growing up). I prefer the American (and film) version that ends on a darker note and leaves out that last chapter.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

(1) When I first saw A Clockwork Orange, I was maybe 16 or 17, and so to this very day I still recall with great fondness that naked chick's jugs bouncing up and down as she ran away from the gang fight.

(2) Gene Kelly giving the silent treatment? Resource guarding.

(3) In one of his memoirs, Richard Dawkins tells a story about Malcolm McDowell running about at Lourdes, making a scene proclaiming that he'd just been cured of some malady or other. Attention seeking smart-ass. A competitive advantage in the acting business, I should imagine.

Fandor said...

ROBERT COOK, I agree..."Human societies have always been violent and corrupt, always "slouching toward Gomorrah." What makes this era seem worse than previous times is that we are living through it now."

The only thing that's changed is technology. Humans have always "fallen short of the mark" and will continue to do so. But that does not mean we shouldn't "seek our better angels" or reach for an ideal.

dustbunny said...

Fandor, I think Clockwork Orange was more presient about the future of society than it was responsible for its current state. I love the Gene Kelly film and acknowledge Kubrick's nihilistic vision of the future. It is quite possible to have appreciation for the artistry of both works.

Mike Sylwester said...

TCM showed A Clockwork Orange about a month ago. I recorded it and fast-forwarded through it.

I watched the movie many years ago, maybe when it still was playing in the theaters, but I don't remember the circumstances. Fast-forwarding through it recently, I remembered many of the scenes, but I don't know how I ever was able to watch the entire thing at normal speed.

Robert Cook said...

I saw A CLOCKWORK ORANGE on its first release, and I was only 16. As it was rated "X," I and my friend with whom I saw it had to borrow fake IDs. I enjoyed it very much, but I didn't think its violence was particularly beyond the pale. DIRTY HARRY was much more violent. What people objected to was that the protagonist Alex, with whom we were expected to empathize, was a thug and not a hero. Alex was indisputably intelligent and charming, and the story was told from his point of view, which made it easier to root for him. However, rooting for a thug and rapist creates psychological tension, as we know the acts of the person we're rooting for are despicable. We like to think that violent thugs are not charming or likable, that they're crude, stupid, boorish, and cartoonishly evil all the time.

I will say Anthony Burgess' book was much better than the movie, even though the movie followed the novel very closely. This is because the novel is really an experience of language. Alex tells the story in first person, and he uses a teenage slang invented by Burgess, a mixture of Cockney rhyming slang and actual or transformed Russian words. Once one adapts to is and can understand it, it's really quite musical and beautiful.

The American edition of the novel--and the film, which followed it--erased the point of Burgess's story. It was a morality tale, literally. Burgess, a catholic, believed that it was Man's free will, his capacity to choose to behave badly or well, that allowed him to be a truly moral creature, as his morality was a choice given him by God. A creature whose behavior was programmed, who could only act in the way its instinct compelled it was not moral--even if its behavior was "good"--but a machine. In the story, Alex is programmed to get sick to his stomach when contemplating acts of violence, which stops his violent ways. This does not mean he is reformed, is actually "good," only that he cannot act as he would truly like. However, because the films he was compelled to watch during his conditioning used Beethoven's music on the soundtrack, he becomes sick when listening to Beethoven, whose music he had loved. In this way Burgess shows means to equate our ability to create and enjoy art with our free--and often volatile--natures. A machine cannot create or appreciate art. At the story's truncated conclusion, Alex has been deprogrammed and he can once again enjoy Beethoven, and can contemplate acts of rape and violence with anticipatory relish.

In the British edition of the book, there is a final chapter--excised from the American edition and the film--in which Alex has grown, is now in his early 20s, is married, and has children. (During the events of the preceding chapters, Alex is only about 16 or 17 years old.) Alex has "grown up" and forsworn his previous ways as immature and wrong. Burgess' point is that only by allowing a creature to follow its own nature and become what it will by choice can the capacity to become moral--an important consideration for a catholic--develop.

mikee said...

Violence porn is violence porn. Always has been, always will be.

This movie, EXACTLY like A Texas Chainsaw Massacre, demands a spiritual cleansing of some kind after viewing, lest the filth remain within oneself.

Robert Cook said...

Mikee, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is not "violence porn." Very little actual violence is shown in the film, and what violence is depicted is swift and not lingered over. There is almost no literal bloodletting shown. The terror in the film is in the anticipation of depravity at the hands of people in a seemingly bucolic rural area of our own country.

(It was loosely based on the same case that loosely inspired Robert Bloch's novel PSYCHO, later filmed by Alfred Hitchock: the case of Wisconsin basket case Edward Gein.)

William said...

Ned Beatty was the guy who was told to squeal like a pig during the rape scene in Deliverance. After that movie came out, his life was made a living hell. Apparently he couldn't appear in public without some wit screaming "squeal like a pig" at him. It was very depressing. He didn't go out much.......Maria Schneider, the girl in Last Tango in Paris, had it even worse. People used to think it amusing to wave sticks of butter at her when she dined out. That role had a profound effect on her life and not for the better.......You don't want to attain lasting fame as the victim in a memorable rape scene. The obit doesn't make any mention of it, but my guess is that the rape scene didn't improve the quality of this woman's life.

Fandor said...

Does anyone think that the entertainment industry, as it exists today, is better for society than it was 70 years ago?

YoungHegelian said...


The American edition of the novel--and the film, which followed it--erased the point of Burgess's story. It was a morality tale, literally. Burgess, a catholic, believed that it was Man's free will, his capacity to choose to behave badly or well, that allowed him to be a truly moral creature, as his morality was a choice given him by God. A creature whose behavior was programmed, who could only act in the way its instinct compelled it was not moral--even if its behavior was "good"--but a machine.

Cookie, thank you for saying this so I don't have to. The book & the movie are meditations on the intertwined nature of free will & good & evil. I first saw the film after Having just finished reading all three of Kant's Critiques the semester before, which deal with these same questions (except with no droogies in rape scenes, even in the original German). I found the movie fascinating.

The rape scene was, & is still, hard to watch.

Amexpat said...

Back in the mid 80's, I worked as an extra here Oslo for a film that Malcolm McDowell was in. I spent most of the time sitting on a bus with a bunch of Brits (we we're playing journalists covering the Moscow Olympics). Every time Malcolm would walk by the bus, the Brits would boisterous sing,"Singing in the Rain". Malcolm was not amused.

Clockwork Orange is a great film, IMO, Kubrick's best. The book is also very good.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

In one of his memoirs, William Shatner wasn't real clear about whether he hates it when people yell "Beam me up, Scotty" at him or whether he hated it at first but now he kind of likes it.

Going a bit soft in the head, was my surmise.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Bob Newhart, in his memoir, made reference to people making a game out of saying "Hi, Bob" to him.

He seems to be okay with it, but I didn't get the reference.

Maybe it's something from his second show, which I've never seen.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

One of the nifty things about Mayim Bialik is you can make the mistake of thinking she's really a super-smart scientist in real life and you got it right, anyway.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Chicks dig Bob Newhart, in case anyone was wondering.

Michael said...

Robert Cook @ 9:17

Well done.

Laslo Spatula said...

"So: did you see anything suspicious when you found the girl's body?"

"Yeah: yeah I did. There was a white van with no windows in the back leaving the parking lot right when I was pulling in."

"How did you discover the body?"

"I walked out into the trees to find a private place to urinate. Too much coffee this morning, goes right through me."

"And that is how you came across the body?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, we might be in luck. Whoever the perpetrator was left a copious amount of semen on her stomach -- we should be able to get good DNA from that."


"What is it?"

"Uh; that's MY semen."

"That's YOUR semen?"

"Yes sir."

"So YOU killed her?"

"No, no: I would never do such a thing. I just masturbated onto her body."

"And why would you do such a thing?"

"Because she was kinda hot, even being dead and all."

"So you masturbated onto her."

"Yeah, I did. I was going to wipe away the -- you know -- semen, but I didn't want to disturb any evidence."

"Well, I think you have ALREADY disturbed the evidence. Did you do anything else after finding the body?"


"Oh God. What did you do?"

"I sucked her toes."

"You sucked her toes?"

"Her shoes were already off, and -- what can I say? -- I like toes."

"Anything else…?"

"Well… I did cut off a lock of her hair to tickle my balls while I was masturbating. It'll be good for memories."


"You don't think I'm only going to masturbate about this once, do you?"

I am Laslo.

eLocke said...

Just a personal experience ...

I was into science fiction at an early age, and greatly enjoyed 2001 even if I didn't understand it at the time.

So when my parents let me go to the movies by myself I went to see A Clockwork Orange expecting to be entertained. I was eight. The theater staff for whatever reason let me in with no challenge ("One child please."). During that scene I had to go out to the concession stand. It was quite disturbing and overwhelming to me at the time.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Michael said...
Robert Cook @ 9:17

Well done.

3/31/16, 10:57 AM

Me too...Thanks, Cookie

Quaestor said...

Why did Kubrick fixate on Singing in the Rain instead of a song in the public domain? Couldn't McDowell learn another song, or is his brain wired for one song only? Was Kubrick trying to retroactively subvert a classic MGM musical? Apparently that was Gene Kelly's opinion. Why would Singing in the Rain be important to the film artistically? Since the whole megillah seems to have arisen as a spur of moment whim, one would conclude not very much. Why would a droog born circa 1970 even be aware of Singing in the Rain, except perhaps as an object of contempt? Alex worships Beethoven, the almighty and ineffable Ludwig Van, so wouldn't it be more logical, dramatic, and ironic if Alex sang a stanza or two from the Ode to Joy while he raped the woman and pummeled her husband. Just picture it —

Freude, schoener Goetterfunken,
(Her mouth is taped shut)
Tochter aus Elysium,
(Snip! Snip! Her tits are exposed.)
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum.
(Rip! More of her garment is turn away.)
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was der Mode Schwert geteilt
(Alex drops his trousers.)
Bettler werden Fuerstenbrueder
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
(Alex kicks the husband in the solar plexus.)

Makes more sense in context. No royalties. Gene Kelly might not be pissed.

Kubrick needed Quaestor as his screenwriter.

Quaestor said...

Phil 3:14 wrote: And the assault with the huge penis added to the overall effect.

That was a later scene.

David-2 said...

Cook: I seriously don't understand why anyone has to borrow a fake id. You have a fake id or you borrow a real id. What am I missing?

Robert Cook said...


Okay...we borrowed real IDs, but they were a fake representation of who we were.

Andrew said...

Clockwork is one of my top ten favorite modern movies. It's has moral and political messages, great visuals, not to mention the Great Ludwig Van's music. What's not to like?

I even had a window shade with Ludwig Van image in college, but I never got a hold of a dancing Jesus-es sculpture.

Gabriel said...

Clockwork Orange is a good novel, though Anthony Burgess didn't think so, and it's too bad that Kubrick lobotomized his story.

In the book Alex is much younger, and much more evil.

Anthony Burgess's wife was raped by four American soldiers during World War II which no doubt inspired the rape of F. Alexander's wife in the book. There was a lot of rape committed by Americans against Allied populations, not to speak of the Germans and Japanese. Not more so, I imagine, than was usual at the time and certainly not as badly as the Germans, Russians and Japanese behaved. Nonetheless, at levels that would horrify us today if they had happened in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Laslo, that was beautiful, but what does it *mean*?

MacMacConnell said...

Gabriel said, " Nonetheless, at levels that would horrify us today if they had happened in Iraq or Afghanistan".

So, UN Peacekeeping Forces are just "old school".