Alex from A Clockwork Orange in If…. (film still from If....)

If.... (1968)

When Malcolm McDowell was preparing for his role in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, he wasn’t sure how to play the character. He turned for advice to Lindsay Anderson, the director of If…., which had launched McDowell’s film career a couple of years earlier.

Anderson reminded him of a close-up from If…., in which McDowell’s character Mick Travis walks into a gym where he’s due to be beaten. It’s a great shot, perfectly capturing the combination of defiance and vulnerability that make up Travis.

“That’s how you play Alex,” Lindsay Anderson told McDowell. And so he did.

(According to McDowell’s comments on the dommentary track for If…., he never told Kubrick that he’d taken the character direction from another director…)

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