In our weekly seriesAnatomy of a Scene's Anatomy, we're going to be taking a look at (in)famous sexscenes and nude scenes throughout cinema history and examining their construction, their relationship to the film around it, and their legacy. After last week's brutal attack on Monica Bellucci, let's lighten the mood with one of the most joyful moments—with some pitch black subtext—ever put on film in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.

Depending upon which way your moral compass points, there's not a ton of "fun" to be had in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, but this scene is one example of a damn enjoyable scene you don't have to be ashamed if it puts a smile on your face. It's one that helps reinforce the notion of the film being a black comedy, a sentiment expressed by Kubrick, star Malcolm McDowell, and the book's author, Anthony Burgess.

Our protagonist, Alex, is not a particularly likable guy.So farin the film, we have seen him beat an old man senseless and have aviciousfight with rival gang leader Billyboy, though I suppose them stopping the other gang from committing group sexual assault on a young woman (Cheryl Grunwald) makes them at least a bit sympathetic. Then,to paraphrase Vincent Vega, he goes home, jerks off, and that's all he's gonna do. He cons his mother into thinking he's not feeling well to skip the school the next day. Instead of resting up, he gets dressed up in the height of teenage fashion and hits the record store.

Set to an excerpt from Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" performed on vocoder and synthesizer by composer Wendy Carlos, the scene takes Alex around in a circle, back to where he started, only to find two girls sucking suggestively on futuristic ice pops cheekily melting into something further resembling a dick...

With the nadsat phrase, "Come with uncle and hear all proper," Alex is subtly hinting that he's older than these girls, old enough to give them a lesson. In the book, Alex would be 15 here, not so outrageous an age to pick up twogirls in a record store, but redhead Marty and brunettte Sonietta, in the book, are ten years old. Bump Alex up two years, as Kubrick did, and that places their age at twelve. Thankfully Kubrick wasn't going to pretend these girls were not yet past the age of consent, casting 24-year old Barbara Scottand 26-year old Gillian Hillsto act opposite the 27-year old McDowell.

In Kubrick's original cut of the film, there was a scene here where Alex treats the girls to a meal at Pasta Parlour, but in typical Kubrick fashion, he deleted the scene and destroyed the footage prior to creating the final print. Instead, we smash cut from the record store to Alex's bedroom where this happens...

McDowell claimed on the film's commentary track that the scene was filmed as a single unbroken take that ran for 28 minutes, and tells an anecdote about his antics on the set...

Malcolm McDowell delighted in the speeded-up orgy, since Stanley Kubrick could not shout "Cut!" until it was over and McDowell could accordingly do whatever he wanted during the take. Carrying the girls back to the bed a second time was improvised by McDowell, much to the irritation of Kubrick who shouted off-camera "That's enough Malcolm! That's enough!"

The transition in music is also notable because while Alex's obsession is with Beethoven, his music will come to represent repulsive violence to him once he undergoes the Ludivico treatment. Beethoven in the record store gives way to Rossini's "William Tell Overture," a more appropriately orgiastic piece of music. Rossini's music continues to be used throughout the film, often as background music, as Kubrick begins to weaponize Beethoven.

The other thing about this crazy threesome is that plays not unlike your average Benny Hill sketch—save the noticeable absence of Yakety Sax...

For the record, The Benny Hill Show first aired in 1969, inEngland, where Kubrick lived. Nothing is in his films accidentally. Another scene Kubrick shot and had in an assemblage at some point involves him trying to sneak Marty and Sonietta out when his dad comes home, leading to them being caught. This would furtherreinforce why truancy officer Mr. Deltoid (the delightful Aubrey Morris) shows up in Alex's house the following day, as dad has clearly had enough of Alex's antics.

Also of note in changes Kubrick made from the book to the movie is that Alex doesn't exactly get the consent of Marty and Sonietta to come with uncle and hear all proper. He drugs them and takes advantage of them, probably just as gleefully as McDowell acts the scene as filmed. It's much darker if the women have no agency. I suspect this scene is meant to keep us Alex's side despite the horrible things he's done up until this point, and will continue to do for the next several minutes of screen time.

I have no doubt that another director may have taken this scene as an opportunity to make Alex utterly irredeemable, but Kubrick wants to keep you on his side. It makes Alex's journey from attacker to victim stronger ifthe audience hassome semblance of an emotional attachment to the character.They don't have to like him,they just have to see a shred of humanity inside himthat will help him earn his journey to redemption. I think this scene goes a long way toward strengthening this argument.

Catch up with our other editions of Anatomy of a Scene's Anatomy...

The "Real Sex" ofDon't Look Now

Scarlett Johansson's Nude Debut inUnder the Skin

The 2 Very Different Sex ScenesofBasic Instinct

How Halle Berry's Nude Debut Led Her toMonster's Ball

HowMulholland Dr.'s Legendary Lesbian Scenes Deepen the Film's Mystery

Showgirlsand the Dangers of High Camp

Rosario Dawson Laid Bare for Danny Boyle'sTrance

Katie Holmes MakesThe GiftWorth Remembering

Jennifer Connelly Comes of Age inThe Hot Spot

Lisa Bonet's Bloody Nude Debut inAngel Heart

Monica Bellucci Gets Brutalized in Gaspar Noé's Irréversible


Stanley Kubrick image courtesy of IMDb