Never Apologize
A Personal Visit with
Lindsay Anderson

UK 2007, 111 mins
Director: Mike Kaplan

No actor was more associated with Anderson than Malcolm McDowell, the ‘Mick Travis’ of the director’s great trilogy, and friend through thick and thin. In this filmed one-man stage performance, first performed at the 2004 Edinburgh Festival on the 10th anniversary of Anderson’s death, McDowell gives a tenderly personal, appropriately gossipy and anecdote-rich reflection on his mentor’s life and work.

Malcolm McDowell as actor-writer and Mike Kaplan as director pull off a very surprising coup with Never Apologize A Personal Visit with Lindsay Anderson, succeeding in turning a plain record of a one-man stage show, done before a live audience, into a film that grips consistently for every one of its 111 minutes. The credit must be shared with their subject, Lindsay Anderson, the troublesome giant of British cinema – an irascible, generous, tormented, tormenting, passionate poet. Anderson launched McDowell’s career when he gave him the leading role in If…. (1968). McDowell’s reciprocal admiration and affection – spiced with amused appreciation of Anderson’s quirks – enrich the portrait he paints here.

McDowell is an easy and compelling raconteur, with tales to tell of his fraught audition for If…., and of the hazards of the film’s celebrated nude scene with a phlegmatic Christine Noonan; of Anderson high on hashish brownies; of Rachel Roberts displaying her cropped (for a film) pubic hair at the Colombe d’Or until distracted by sudden lust for the passing Catherine Deneuve; even a touching story of Princess Diana, who irritated Lindsay when she sat beside him at the Cannes screening of The Whales of August. McDowell has a shrewd eye for character and a great talent for impersonation – especially when he is capturing Anderson at his most supercilious and inquisitorial, staring over his senatorial nose with eyes as mercilessly challenging as his questions. Kaplan cleverly sharpens up dialogue by cutting between angles of McDowell’s close-up face.

McDowell also reads from David Sherwin’s memoirs of working with Anderson and from Anderson’s own letters and diaries. These are the show stoppers, each one spontaneously applauded by the theatre audience. Whether writing a postcard, a letter or a diary entry, Anderson was incapable of not making literature. The title of the film acknowledges his firm principle: ‘Never apologise – it is a sign of weakness’. A lengthy letter, written to an estranged Alan Bates at the behest of friends who felt Lindsay owed him an apology, elegantly evades the necessity of doing any such thing. It is the sheer wickedness of the thing that captures the theatre audience. Filming This Sporting Life, Anderson agonises over working with Richard Harris, talented but terrible, and with whom he had fallen secretly but desperately in love. There is a superb essay on working with the angelic Lillian Gish and the diabolic Bette Davis on The Whales of August, and a moving account of a last meeting with his dying hero, John Ford. McDowell reads them beautifully, with authentic Anderson intonation; and he closes with a memory of the loss of Anderson himself that Anderson (his most merciless critic, naturally) would have approved for the absence of easy sentiment or ‘acting’.
David Robinson, Sight and Sound, December 2007


Directed by: Mike Kaplan
©/Presented by: Travis Productions Inc., Ltd. Circle Associates
Conceived by: Malcolm McDowell
Produced by: Mike Kaplan, Malcolm McDowell
Producer Performance Footage: Peter Crane
Post-production (KBC Productions): Kris Crookham
Post-production (EZTV Media): Michael Masucci
Part-based on the book by: Davey Sherwin, Lindsay Anderson
Camera: Matt Walla, Jesse Hagy, John Paul Meyer, Christoph Faubert
Lighting: Brian Lofthaus
Edited by: Eric Foster, Kate Johnson
Sound: Larry McMillian
Re-recording Mixer: Jim Corbett
Subtitles: Claudine Mulard
Special Thanks: David Storey, Gavin Lambert, Karl Magee
Thank You: Kathy Burke, Lauren Hutton, Kelley McDowell, Joan Tewkesbury, David Thomson, Lois Smith

Malcolm McDowell

UK 2007
111 mins

This Sporting Life
Wed 1 May 20:20; Wed 15 May 17:50; Thu 23 May 12:00
Lindsay Anderson: Meet the Pioneer
Thu 2 May 18:10
No Film Can Be Too Personal
Thu 2 May 20:20
Sun 5 May 15:20
The White Bus
Sun 5 May 17:30
Mon 6 May 17:50; Thu 16 May 20:30; Tue 21 May 18:10; Fri 24 May 12:10; Tue 28 May 20:45
BFI Library Event: Outing Anderson
Wed 8 May 20:00 BFI Reuben Library
In Celebration
Thu 9 May 20:25; Wed 22 May 18:00
O Lucky Man!
Sun 12 May 14:10; Sat 18 May 14:20; Mon 27 May 19:20
Britannia Hospital
Tue 14 May 20:35; Sat 25 May 18:00
The Whales of August
Thu 16 May 12:20; Sat 25 May 16:00; Fri 31 May 20:30
The Old Crowd
Thu 16 May 18:30
Lindsay Anderson vs the Short Films Industry + intro by Patrick Russell, Senior Curator of Non-fiction, BFI National Archive
Thu 23 May 18:20
Stand Up! Stand Up!
Thu 23 May 20:30
Never Apologize
Fri 24 May 17:50
In Collaboration: Anderson and Others
Sun 26 May 18:10
Lindsay Anderson Experimenta Mixtape, curated by Stephen Sutcliffe
Thu 30 May 18:10

With thanks to
The Lindsay Anderson Archive at the University of Stirling

O Lucky Lindsay Anderson!
4-week course from 7 May – 28 May, 2-4pm at City Lit, Keeley St. exploring the work and influence of visionary director, Lindsay Anderson, with course tutor John Wischmeyer. To book online www.citylit.ac.uk/courses/o-lucky-lindsay-anderson or call 020 3871 3111 and quote course code HF364
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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
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