The Improvised Scene In Clockwork Orange That Cost $10,000

With his passion for perfection and attention to detail, Stanley Kubrick is often referred to as one of the greatest filmmakers to have graced the cinematic world stage. His foray into different genres saw him wade through noir, crime fiction, as well as science-fiction in films such as "Killer's Kiss," "2001: A Space Odyssey," and "A Clockwork Orange."

Perhaps one of Kubrick's most controversial movies even today is "A Clockwork Orange," an adaptation of the dystopian book of the same name. The film introduces the character of the sociopathic criminal Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), the leader of a gang of "droogs." He speaks about violence (I mean, ultraviolence) in metaphors, and along with his trio of criminal cohorts, Alex engages in fights, rape, and murder. The film's excessive violence even led Kubrick to withdraw "A Clockwork Orange" from being distributed in Britain (where he lived), while it remained available in other countries.

One of the movie's most notorious scenes is the home invasion where Alex and his droogs trick a woman and break into her home. The gang beats up her husband and sexually assaults the woman, all while Alex breaks into song and dance, singing a rendition of Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain," and changes "rain" to "pain." Not many know that the song wasn't originally scripted by Kubrick, and including it in the scene cost the filmmaker $10,000.

It Was The Only Song McDowell Knew

The addition of the song in the disturbing scene is quite twisted, but Kubrick didn't come up with it, neither did it exist in the pages of the 1962 book by Anthony Burgess. It was originally written so the gang would break into the house, kick the old man down the stairs and toss bottles of alcohol out the window. Kubrick and his team thought over the scene for four days, and on the fifth, the filmmaker asked McDowell if he could dance. Why? So the outrageous scene would convey the sinister nature of the character.

Stanley Kubrick fully believed in his performers and gave them the opportunity to take their characters into a different place when the camera was rolling. When McDowell expressed he could dance and sing a rendition of "Singin' in the Rain," the filmmaker set aside $10,000 to buy the rights to the song, thus creating one of the most iconic moments in "A Clockwork Orange."

Malcolm McDowell decided to perform "Singin' in the Rain" because it was the only song he "sort of knew half the lyrics to" and described it as the "most euphoric song in film history," per the New York Post. The filmmaker was impressed by the idea, and the duo got into his car and bought the rights to use the song for $10,000. Kubrick made the decision to alter the words, and change "rain" to "pain" which further elaborated on how twisted Alex DeLarge was, and how much joy violence brought him. "It took things into a surreal place," McDowell told the publication about the scene, on the film's 40th anniversary in 2011.

Although the song was sung by the actor in the scene, Kubrick added the original version by Gene Kelly over the closing credits.

"A Clockwork Orange" has always had mixed reviews. Some praise Kubrick for displaying the uncompromised portrait of man through the movie, and others are of the belief that the unrepentant violence in the film was concerning. Whatever said and done, Malcolm McDowell's fearless portrayal of Alex will continue to be remembered as one of Kubrick's most terrifying characters of all time.