Thursday, 27 September 2012

Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs

The late great George Harrison.

My initial interest in this wee British curio is its connection with one of my favourite people the late George Harrison who incidentally was the main reason for my pilgrimage to Liverpool earlier this year. It was Harrison and his business partner Denis O’Brien that formed Handmade Films in 1978 to finance the Monty Python movie The Life of Brian (1979). Lord Delfont’s company EMI pulled out just as shooting was about to begin and Harrison mortgaged his family home, Friars Park, and raised the £2million required to finish what turned out to be a very successful movie. Originally set up for this one specific project Handmade went on to finance and distribute some very successful films including The Long Good Friday (1980) Time Bandits (1980) The Missionary (1982) A Private Function (1984) Mona Lisa (1986) and the cult hit Withnail and I (1987).

But a scarcely remembered fact is that The Life of Brian was not Georges first venture into film production that privilege went to a rather forgotten gem called Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs released in 1974. George financed the film to the tune of  £1.5million through a company called Suba Films that Apple Corps set up solely to receive the profits from The Beatles film Yellow Submarine (1968). Based on a play by David Halliwell of the same name it was directed by the American born Stuart Cooper who was resident in this country during the 1960’s and 70’s. Prior to Little Malcolm he had directed two documentaries and subsequently worked mainly in television. 

The brilliant John Hurt as Malcolm.

Filmed in Oldham in Gas board buildings emptied by a strike, the story involves the Malcolm of the title, played like Fassbinder on speed by John Hurt, who has been expelled from Art College for his disruptive influence. He decides to fight back by forming his own political party, which he calls the Party of Dynamic Erection. He is joined in this endeavour by Wick (John McEnery) Irwin (Raymond Platt) and the ultra strange Nipple (David Warner) who plan to abduct the tutor hold’s responsible for Malcolm expulsion.

The ulta strange Nipple (David Warner)

Very talky and theatrical, it’s satire on Fascism, like a cut down version of 2008’s The Wave, and how certain young men can be impotent in the company of women, in this instance Ann Gedge played by Rosalind Ayres. Although it won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film festival in 1975 it did become a ‘lost’ film mainly due to the fact that it was tied up with the Apple Corps litigation when the Beatles broke up and their assets held by the official Receiver for some years.  At the end of 2011 the British Film Institute released it on DVD/Blu-ray as part of its very worthwhile BFI Flipside Series, which gives us all a chance to re-evaluate the film some 38 years after its original release.[1]

"Would you like to **** me Malcolm"

[1] Thanks to Guardian critic John Patterson for his research.

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