Cult Vault #19: Mike Leigh on Little Malcolm

Mike Leigh remembers a treasured relic of 70s British counterculture

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Taken from the November 2011 issue of Dazed & Confused:

Responsible for the bleakly humorous likes of Naked, Secrets & Lies and Vera Drake, Mike Leigh selects this 1974 film of a student who invents an eccentric revolutionary political party when he’s kicked out of art school. Featuring an early, ferocious performance by John Hurt, it was financed by George Harrison and scooped the Silver Bear in Berlin that year.

“I directed and designed the original theatrical production of David Halliwell’s Little Malcolm & His Struggle Against The Eunuchs.  It opened at the Unity Theatre, in 1965, with the author himself as lead character Malcolm Scrawdyke. David’s original title had been ‘One Long Wank’, but this promised difficulties with printers and advertisers. David Halliwell was an uncompromising, highly intelligent, witty, angry, ironic, passionate outsider, with a Yorkshire bluntness and a remarkable gift of the gab.  He combined a taste for confrontation with a healthy distrust of pretentiousness and a wicked sense of humour. Director Stuart Cooper’s sympathetic approach to Halliwell’s sardonic take on fascist paranoia is handled with great intelligence.  It is quite spectacular in its evocation of freezing northern winters and empty warehouses, and the rally sequence in the snow is a major triumph.  John Hurt and his supporting cast are magnificent, and it’s beautifully shot by Stanley Kubrick’s cinematographer, John Alcott.” 



 LITTLE MALCOLM AND HIS STRUGGLE AGAINST THE EUNUCHS is released on BFI Blu-ray and DVD on October 24

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