Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has always been somewhat of an eccentric character in Hollywood. The brains behind such classic films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick’s name often goes hand-in-hand with imaginative, challenging filmmaking. Apparently, his name should also be a associate with being a bit cheap.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Malcolm McDowell spoke pretty frankly of the conflict that arose between Gene Kelly and Kubrick when Kubrick failed to pay for the use of "Singin’ in the Rain" in one of the most disturbingly memorable scenes in A Clockwork Orange--despite Kubrick’s numerous promises to Kelly. Understandably, this caused quite a bit of tension between Kelly and Kubrick. As Malcolm McDowell tells it, he witnessed Kelly's irritation over the matter firsthand.
EW brought up the fact that this was something of a recurring theme with Kubrick, to which McDowell responded:
Kubrick, of course, is a bit notorious for failing to make friends in Hollywood. 2001: A Space Odyssey, though the film is now considered a classic, ran so far over budget that he was forced to make A Clockwork Orange on a shoestring budget to make up for his expenses. His adaptation of The Shining is one that Stephen King, the author of the book upon which the film is based, utterly hated, and is never shy about ranting about. Of course, Kubrick's failure to pay for the use of "Singin’ in the Rain" is particularly gutsy, especially considering how that is one of the most iconic (and completely messed up) scenes from the film.
However, you can kind of excuse Kubrick’s oversight, as the song wasn’t originally planned to be included in A Clockwork Orange. It turns out that McDowell’s choice to make his character, Alex, sing Kelly’s famous song about singing in the midst of a downpour came from a moment of sheer improvisation. After several attempts to take the gritty realism out of the scene, Kubrick asked McDowell if he could dance, and McDowell immediately obliged.
This is only one instance of Kubrick's film-making brilliance, and it's no doubt that Kubrick was a film genius. Kubrick was able to craft scenes within his films that will surely stick with audiences for decades to come. Unfortunately, it seems his reputation for being a bit cheap will also follow his films.
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