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Never Apologize


Stars: Malcolm McDowell

Director: Mike E Kaplan

McDowell, who owes his star career to the maverick British director Lindsay Anderson, conceived this highly enjoyable one-man-show slice of filmed Show Business history decorated with fascinating anecdotes about actors and some other filmmakers than his subject, and featuring enough splendidly scabrous stories about luvvies rampant or otherwise to delight movie buffs (obviously). as well as entertain filmgoers who enjoy hearing good stories very well told. Director Kaplan, filming McDowell’s one-man-show at the 2006 Ojai Film Festival, sensibly avoids any tricky shots in favour of showcasing McDowell, relaxed in jeans, as he recalls close encounter with Anderson who brought him cinema stardom with If… in 1968 and later starred him to excellent effect in 1973’s O Lucky Man!

McDowell turns out to be a considerable raconteur, bringing to life the career of his subject and, just as amusingly, a wide range of ‘supporting players’, notably John Ford on his death bed meeting his impending death with terminal cancer by swigging brandy and smoking a cigar, John Gielgud, who asks if Caligula is a “cock picture” and Alan Bates, given to petulant outbursts and to wearing, says McDowell, scarves or similar camouflage to cover up a double chin. There’s more pleasure to be derived from seeing footage from the making of Anderson’s last film The Whales of August and from splendid bon mots, my favourite being Anderson’s invaluable advice to the young McDowell: “If you want to work in movies you’d better know something about them”. It would be a really great idea if the phrase was now automatically written into the contract of every film actor, aspiring or already accomplished. (The title, incidentally, is a quote from John Wayne in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon - "Never apologize. It's a sign of weakness).

Alan Frank

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Verve Pictures. Colour.
110 minutes. Not widesceen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Sep 2008