Oliver Reed cheerfully strolls the halls of his London high-rise office building with an ax slung over his shoulder. Impeccably dressed, nursing a mysterious smile under his dark brow, he looks every bit the well-dressed society thug as he renders his desk to kindling by way of resignation. Director Michael Winner knows how to kick off a film, and this antiestablishment satire is full of such gestures, mixed with wry humor and shaken by Reed's underplayed charm and easy confidence. Reed is TV commercial wunderkind Andrew Quint, a 32-year-old success who chucks his job and status symbol lifestyle for a career editing a prestigious but impoverished literary journal. Quint's decadent, cigar-chomping boss Jonathan Lute (Orson Welles) speaks softly and carries a big checkbook, constantly reappearing like a little devil whispering temptations into his ear with a cynical air. "I'm going to get an honest job," Quint tells Lute. "Silly boy. There's no such thing." The script fires wildly at a myriad of targets: public schools, private sellouts, consumerism, and hypocrisy. What makes this mod twist on the angry young man genre work is that Quint is neither angry, young, nor particularly sincere. Obsessed with the idea of freedom, he never really confronts his own, self-made prison. Carol White costars as his latest girlfriend, a big-eyed beauty with a Julie Christie smile; Marianne Faithfull and Lynn Ashley appear as his two mistresses; and Harry Andrews is memorable as a lascivious author. --Sean Axmaker
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