Never Apologize (Warner) is not a documentary, it’s a theater piece: Malcolm McDowell’s remembrance of director (and his longtime friend) Lindsay Anderson, who launched McDowell’s screen career by casting him in as the rebellious hero of “If…” The full title of the one-man-show, a mix of readings from Anderson’s papers, personal reminiscence and re-enactments of memorable moments, is “Never Apologize: A Personal Visit with Lindsay Anderson [And Their Celebrated Colleagues],” and along with his affectionate impression of Anderson is a collection of delicious impressions of “their celebrated colleagues,” among them Alan Bates, Richard Harris and John Ford. (The title, by the way, is a quote that Anderson appropriated from Ford’s “Rio Grande.”)
It’s a touching portrait of a great artist and a private man and McDowell brings an intimacy to the often hilarious stories, but McDowell is a raconteur rather than a biographer and this is a celebration of Anderson’s life, his tribute to a mentor, a collaborator and a friend. The production is a collection of bits and pieces from a private life, but together they offer some insight to a man who let few people past his public persona, delivered without sentiment, only affection and respect. Originally performed at the 2004 Edinburgh Festival as a tribute to the director, documentarian Mike Kaplan recorded a 2007 performance and, with the blessing of McDowell, supplements the performance with illustrative stills and film clips for this production. The production was shot on video and the visual quality of the disc is decidedly low-fidelity, but that’s not much of an issue in a production where imagery is secondary to performance. No supplements.