Anthony Burgess's brilliant, slang-infused 1962 novella of disturbed and disturbing youth, is one tough read. Stanley Kubrick's harrowing 1971 film is more, ahem, penetrable, but remains an unapologetically tough sit, even at this late date.
Starring a mesmerizing Malcolm McDowell as Alex, the ringleader of a band of nihilistic havoc-wreakers quenched by neither murder nor rape, A Clockwork Orange stands as one of the most iconic and influential movies ever made. Burgess somehow anticipated Thatcher's England and punk rock, while Kubrick cleared a path for Michael Haneke and Lars Von Trier. (Neither, however, could have imagined anything as gruesome as one Kylie Minogue appropriat-ing Alex's distinctive clothes and props for a 2002 concert tour.)
The genius of both the writer and the director is most palpable in the gutsy swaths of pitch-black comedy, which foreshadow The Shining, though the stakes are much higher here. A Clockwork Orange is Wednesday's barbed treat in the delightful "Summer Classics" series of restored Warner Bros. films, which wraps with Hitchcock's North by Northwest on July 18 and Bob Fosse's Cabaret July 25. Put on some Ludwig Van, grab your droogs, and go.