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Friday, September 27, 2013

The Horse's Mouth (1958) d. Ronald Neame

Alec Guinness plays Gully Jimson in The Horses Mouth (1958) d. Ronald Neame

Movie Review
The Horses Mouth (1958)
d. Ronald Neame
Criterion Collection #154

    The Horses Mouth is a comedy about washed up painter Gilley Jimson, played by Alec Guinness, who has lived past his prime.  In the first scene Jimson is being released from jail after serving a sentence for making harassing phone calls to the gentleman who owns all his early works.  First thing he does is of course resume said threatening phone calls.  The plot largely concerns Jimson figuring out a way to squat in a wealthy collector's apartment and create an indelible masterpiece on the wall of their flat., followed by a kind of coda where he creates an epic painting on the wall of a soon to-be-demolished Church.

One of the Gully Jimson paintings from the film.


  Jimson is obviously a character who was very close to Alec Guinness's' heart: Guinness wrote the screen play and it is hard to miss the obvious passion he brings to the role, raspy voice and all of it.  The script is based on the on the novel of the same name by Joyce Cary- Criterion Collection calls the novel a classic but I'd never heard of the novel or the author.

  At times it seems like the Criterion Collection is just an endless exploratory journey, the artistic equivalent of having some kind of warp drive that would allow you to hop from planet to planet instantaneously.  Almost every day I am humbled by just how little I know about the world of literature after 23 years of formal education and actually being interested in the subject both in and out of school for roughly the same amount of time.

 There is just so much out there it is easy to get overwhelmed on a day-to-day basis. I know I say this quite often but I could have easily lived my entire life without seeing or hearing about or discussing or being aware of the existence of The Horses Mouth, but it was a fine way to pass a couple hours, and it is worth checking out particular for the Anglophiles out there, and of course it is a much watch for those dedicated to British comedies from the 50s and 60s.  Anyone? No? Ok.

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