79 user 38 critic

O Lucky Man! (1973)

An apprentice coffee salesman has a series of improbable and ironic adventures that seem designed to challenge his naive idealism.


Lindsay Anderson


David Sherwin (screenplay), Malcolm McDowell (based on an original idea by)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Malcolm McDowell ... Mick Travis / Plantation Thief
Ralph Richardson ... Sir James Burgess / Monty
Rachel Roberts ... Gloria Rowe / Madame Paillard / Mrs. Richards
Arthur Lowe ... Mr. Duff / Charlie Johnson / Dr. Munda
Helen Mirren ... Patricia Burgess / Casting Assistant
Graham Crowden ... Stewart / Prof. Millar / Meths Drinker
Peter Jeffrey ... Factory Chairman / Prison Governor
Dandy Nichols ... Tea Lady / Neighbour
Mona Washbourne ... Neighbour / Usher / Sister Hallett
Philip Stone ... Jenkins / Interrogator / Salvation Army Major
Mary MacLeod ... Mary Ball / Salvationist / Vicar's Wife (as Mary Macleod)
Michael Bangerter Michael Bangerter ... William / Interrogator / Assistant / Released Prisoner
Wallas Eaton Wallas Eaton ... John Stone (Coffee Factory) / Col. Steiger / Prison Warder / Meths Drinker / Film Executive
Warren Clarke ... Master of Ceremonies (Nightspot) / Warner / Male Nurse
Bill Owen ... Supt. Barlow / Insp. Carding
Learn more

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Follows the literal and associated life journey of middle class Brit Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell), representing the "everyman", as he tries to make his mark in his so far young life. He is able to make great strides in his traditional view of success by being what those in authority want him to be. As such, he achieves in a few weeks what it usually take years for others, namely having his own sales territory, the northeast and ultimately Scotland, for Imperial Coffee. He is also able to garner a plethora of fringe benefits from this job, including women throwing themselves at his feet. But he will ultimately face a struggle in class and authority warfare, which culminates with his encounter with the Burgess family, wealthy industrialist Sir James Burgess (Sir Ralph Richardson) and his daughter Patricia (Dame Helen Mirren), who Mick wants to marry, the former who is contemplating investing in the shady dealings in Zingara. Mick will also find that the class struggle not only applies... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Smile while you're makin' it. Laugh while you're takin' it. Even though you're fakin' it. Nobody's gonna know...


Comedy | Drama | Fantasy | Music


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


In France, the title is "The Best of all Possible Worlds", which is the refrain from Voltaire's novel "Candide", upon which this movie is very loosely based. See more »


A sign says 200 miles to London where Travis is picked up. He has reached there by walking for a while from the military establishment where the explosion took place. The distance even from London to the border of Scotland is 398 Miles. See more »


Film director: Smile!
Michael Arnold Travis: For what? There's nothing to smile about!
Film director: You don't have to have a reason. Just do it.
Michael Arnold Travis: But there's nothing to smile about.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original US release was cut by twenty or more minutes, the entire sequence involving the suicidal woman, roughly from Mick's release from prison until he meets the charity tea-wagon lady was omitted. (This included one of Alan Price's songs) See more »


Referenced in The Gambler (2014) See more »


Look over Your Shoulder
Written by Alan Price
See more »

User Reviews

Strange and Interesting; Surprisingly Compelling
1 November 2005 | by Wulfstan10See all my reviews

To say the least, this is an odd movie. It has no real "plot" per se or at least not a continuous , cohesive storyline but, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of La Dolce Vita (and I mean pretty loosely), it follows one man as he drifts through various events and people, and how those experiences do or do not affect him. The events are also rather surreal, often very strange, brutal, or sexual, and at times a bit disturbing. The commonalities or unifying elements throughout, aside from the character, are constant social commentary, often rather harsh; the fact that the whole film is a series of apparently random experiences, each by happenstance leading to the next, and an ultimate conclusion; and the fact that in the end the events change the character.

I won't say that this is one of my top choices of films to watch on a regular basis, at least not if I just want to relax and have a good time, but it certainly is interesting and strangely compelling. Despite the often tense situations and some humour, etc., I douybt most people would find the film particularly fun or exciting, so one should certainly not expect that. Nevertheless, there is something about the film, perhaps a mixture of the oddness, the apparent randomness of it all, the impacts of the events and people, and McDowell's great portrayal of a seemingly clueless but sympathetic character, that draws the viewer in to care about the events. The result is that the viewer does want to keep watching throughout the roughly 3 hours to see what is going to happen next. There is something gripping about the lack of a particular story line so that the viewer wants to see what seemingly random, unconnected event will follow and whither it will lead. In the end, the viewer does see a progression and how the film ends up with essentially a counterpoint to the beginning.

In addition, everyone is enjoyable to watch. This is particularly true of McDowell, of course, since he is usually great and is the one constant person throughout. He wonderfully portrays his character Travis and Travis's transformations.

At the same time, the viewer also constantly encounters numerous points, images, events, etc., that work themselves into the viewer and make the viewer think, even if not right away.

The film also has a great soundtrack that I think really helps the film. The songs have a way of deeply embedding themselves in the viewer just as McDowell's character and the events themselves do. The lyrics are also quite telling and catchy.

This film is certainly not for everyone and I'd say that the average moviegoer would probably not like it or at least be confused or bored. But, for some, at least, this will be an enthralling and gripping film.

I also think that any thinking person who takes the time to sit through this film, even one who does not especially enjoy the movie while watching it, will at least appreciate, and be affected by, parts of the film. There is a lot here to ponder, some extremely obvious, some almost unnoticeable. Some of it is in the specific events or characters themselves, some in the apparent randomness of these haphazard events leading into each other and ultimately changing McDowell's character, Travis. This latter element is clearly seen in how he changes from the very beginning to the very end.

Ultimately, this is a movie that I doubt anyone can fully appreciate right after viewing it, much less while actually viewing it. I think that full appreciation requires at least some time to digest the film after wards and possibly another viewing later. I won't say one could ever fully understand all of this film, as I don't think anyone can, while there are probably many ways to interpret a lot in this film.

I recommend that anyone who likes "different" or thought-provoking films, etc., to try it, be patient, and aftewards just think about it or let it wander around in your mind for a while without actively trying to think about it. I think that the film will work itself into a viewer's mind and stay there, without any effort on such a viewer's part, and that even someone who wasn't sure about the film right after watching it will be affected and appreciate something from it.

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Release Date:

20 June 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Lucky Man! See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Memorial Enterprises, Sam See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Black and White (opening sequence)| Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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