Synopsis by Mark Deming
One man's dreams of success take him on a Byzantine journey through the various stations of the British class system in this politically charged black comedy from director Lindsay Anderson. Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) is an ambitious young man who is looking to get his foot on the first rung of the ladder of success by landing a job as a salesman. After the death of Imperial Coffee's leading drummer in the North, Travis' charm and enthusiasm so impresses manager Mr. Duff (Arthur Lowe) that he's given the job, and after some coaching from Gloria Rowe (Rachel Roberts), Travis sets out to find his fortune in the coffee trade. Travis' desire for success quickly sets him on a curious odyssey in which he happens upon a secret sex club for businessmen, finds himself the subject of random seductions by lonely women, is captured and tortured by military intelligence agents, submits to medical experiments at a bizarre private clinic, hitches a ride with a traveling rock band led by former Animals keyboardist Alan Price, falls in love with a beautiful young bohemian named Patricia (Helen Mirren), goes to work for her father (Ralph Richardson), who happens to be a singularly corrupt political figure, and eventually lands in prison after he's implicated in a deal to sell chemical weapons to the Third World. As Mick's strange tale progresses, we periodically visit Price and his band in the recording studio or rehearsal hall, as they work on songs which serve as both mirror and counterpoint for Travis' progress. O Lucky Man! was the second film in which Malcolm McDowell would portray Mick Travis for director Lindsay Anderson, following If..., and preceding Britannia Hospital; the film's surreal undercurrent was reinforced by the casting, in which nearly all of the principal actors play two or three roles.
salesperson, career, success
High Artistic Quality, High Historical Importance