Friday, 7 April 2017

Righting Wrongs: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange (1971) contains a fair amount of nudity but the end credits unhelpfully list the minor players without indicating the roles played - and in alphabetical order too so nothing useful can be determined from the order in which they are listed

Although IMDB have long had a full list of credits showing character names it has never been clear where these identifications originate from and how reliable they can be taken to be.  One would of course hope the identifications were made by someone who had access to researched documentation.  But they could just as easily contain a degree of guesswork.

Case in Point
Recently watching the 1970s drama Secret Army on the Drama channel I noticed the actress Shirley Jaffe appearing in a small role in episode 3 and that prompted me to re-examine A Clockwork Orange in which she is one of those credited without a character designation.  On IMDB she is shown as being the "Victim of Billyboy's gang". 

This IMDB identification has led to the long-standing and widely-held belief that she is the naked woman near the beginning of the film being assaulted on the stage of a derelict casino by a gang who are then interrupted by a rival gang led by Alex (Malcolm McDowell).

But being only ever seen at a distance it has been impossible to really say one way or the other whether this is correct even with good face shots of her from another film - Taste The Blood of Dracula (1970).  Consequently it has been necessary to take the IMDB identification on good faith.

With no way to really prove it, it would only be possible to potentially overturn it if she could be spotted in some other role in the film.  And indeed this has now proved to be the case.  She has been located in an easily missed cameo as a non-speaking nurse in the first hospital that Alex is taken to where he is soon to get his aversion therapy.  She is getting a hypodermic syringe ready while Dr Branom (Madge Ryan) assesses Alex.  Her face is only briefly seen as she is walking into the room but it is her clearly enough.

This means she is not the woman in the Billybob scene as has long been thought.  So her entry on the site database will be removed next time its pages are refreshed.

This of course leaves the actress in that scene unaccounted for ... (but not for long)

While doing this new investigation I came across a site dedicated to Malcolm McDowell and A Clockwork Orange (aco) which has behind-the-scenes documentation on the film. - A table of call sheets for the film  A list of participants and the roles they actually played.  Including uncredited roles and other useful information.
(Update: Nov 2017 - These two links are no longer live and now go to advertising instead)
From this the following can be drawn.

It confirms Shirley Jaffe is indeed the Hypo Nurse and not the woman being assaulted in the derelict casino.

On IMDB Cheryl Grunwald is listed as "Victim in film" - this would be referencing a sequence seen of a young woman in a pink wig on some grass being set upon by men in white clothing - this is a film shown to Alex during his aversion therapy designed to appal him and correct his way of thinking.

But the information on the malcolmtribute site shows that Cheryl Grunwald was in fact the girl in the earlier Billybob scene and not the girl wearing the pink wig in the aversion therapy film.  The latter scene is unfortunately not actually mentioned on the site, so unless Cheryl Grunwald did both scenes (which there is no real cause to think) that performer now becomes an unknown.

Here is a comparison collage showing a blow-up from the Billybob scene along with a photo that is apparently one of Cheryl Grunwald in a publicity shot taken at the time of A Clockwork Orange.  It's not conclusive but it seems entirely possible it could be her.

The malcolmtribute site does help substantiate a few of the other identifications made on the IMDB entry.
  • Jan Adair, Vivienne Chandler & Prudence Drage are indeed the three women in Alex's bible fantasy
  • And Katya Wyeth is indeed the girl in Alex's Ascot fantasy right at the end of the film. 
  • Also, the uncredited brunette girl who was in the speeded up bedroom sequence along with Gillian Hills, was indeed played by Barbara Scott who doesn't appear in the end credits despite having a speaking role and the same degree of involvement as the credited Gillian Hills (who was recognisable enough from other things not to need IMDB's help identifying her role).  This seems to be because she asked for her name to be taken off the credits.  

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