• Unrated, 1 hr. 33 min.
  • Classics, Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Ronald Neame
    In Theaters:
    Nov 1, 1958 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jun 4, 2002
  • United Artists


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The Horse's Mouth Reviews

Page 1 of 3
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

August 25, 2012
Alec Guinness out does himself in this comic slice of life of an all out artist visionary, ever on the lookout for his next drink, woman, or blank wall space ... and perhaps in just that order as well. Over-the-top, loud, and rambunctious, and that's before he's out of bed in the morning, his friends struggle to understand him while everyone else gazes on in sheer disbelief. A bit o'fun from England, and written by Guinness as well.
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

December 3, 2008
This bittersweet comedy, scripted by and starring Alec Guinness, came very warmly recommended, and it didn't disappoint. I suppose it could be described as one of the best films Ealing never made. Guinness is brilliant as Gulley Jimson, an eccentric, uncompromising artist in search of the perfect 'canvas' to do justice to his vision, and Guinness' own literate screenplay is good enough to make me wish he'd written a few more. The film is generally excellent, but I did occasionally catch myself wondering whether Alexander Mackendrick (Whisky Galore!, The Man in the White Suit, The Ladykillers) might have made something even more special out of it, had he directed instead of Ronald Neame. One of the things I most enjoyed about The Horse's Mouth was the look of the film, especially the location photography: the duffel-coats, the double-deckers, the drabness of suburbia; as an incidental snapshot of a time and place, for some reason it reminded me of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom. There are some very enjoyable character performances, particularly Renee Houston as Jimson's sweetly devious ex-wife and Kay Walsh as his abrasive but kindhearted female friend. Mike Morgan, who plays Gulley's devoted follower, Nosey, died of meningitis before the film was completed!

Super Reviewer

December 3, 2008
gully jimson, mad artist, is my favorite alec guiness character. it's a shame so few people have seen or heard of this film. 4 for the film, 5 for guiness :)
Alec B

Super Reviewer

February 13, 2013
A great portrayal of artistic genius/madness. Doing the film as a comedy is probably what makes most of whats being said about the impossibility of artistic fulfillment more palatable. All that aside, I really just like to watch Alec Guinness act like a lunatic for an hour and a half.
July 18, 2007
One of Alec Guinness' more underrated and lesser-known roles. A bit quirky but still enjoyable to watch.
June 11, 2014
Classic 1958 British comedy (sorry, few jokes about bodily functions or... meat) starring Alec Guinness as artist Gully Jimson. He's just finished serving 30 days in jail-- they won't let him come back-- so he's off in search of lost paintings, a loan and the perfect wall to paint. Quote: "my better self keeps following me like a whipped dog."
March 10, 2012
Alec Guiness playing a disheveled, scruffy artist. Can't get much better than that.
Guy Gomez
May 21, 2011
[95/A] One of the splendid pinnacles of Guinness' character-rich career, as meticulous as it is madcap, and an anarchic, drunken dance to the jaunty bars of Sergei Prokofiev's Lieutenat Kije.

Guinness plays Gulley Jimson, a reclusive, incorrigible, alcohol-scented hobo painter whose beatific artistic visions far surpass the hypocritical and drearily boring milieu of postwar London. Despite his glaring flaws and irresponsibility, and occasional mean-spirited rantings, Jimson is comical and likable, a man who cannot compromise with very much of society, but whose heart undeniably beats for the beautiful.

There is an underpinning of sadness to Jimson's raffish pursuit of the formal realization of his artistic visions. Though he runs roughshod over mostly everyone and everybody, in quite hilarious ways, trying to manifest the sublime at the expense of the homes and pocketbooks of well-to-do patrons, it is as if he is chasing a divine butterfly, one that is destined to elude him as it does the rest of unsuspecting, blind society.

The irascible, Diogenes-like Jimson gets the last word, or at least disappears on his own terms, but the movie casts a pessimistic eye upon the theme of the viability of ideals within the absurd normality and banality of compromise, practicality, and conformism.
February 8, 2007
Although this is not one of the best Alec Guiness comedies from the 1950's, it is still a gem of a film. He is wonderful, as he always is. The supporting cast is stellar. Well written, very enjoyable and entertaining.
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