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Criterion Collection: The Horse's Mouth [DVD] [1958] [US Import]

Alec Guinness , Kay Walsh , D.A. Pennebaker , Ronald Neame    DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 12.77
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Criterion Collection: The Horse's Mouth [DVD] [1958] [US Import] + Last Holiday [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Renee Houston, Mike Morgan, Robert Coote
  • Directors: D.A. Pennebaker, Ronald Neame
  • Writers: Alec Guinness, D.A. Pennebaker, Joyce Cary
  • Producers: Ronald Neame, Albert Fennell, John Bryan
  • Format: Anamorphic, Colour, DVD-Video, Widescreen, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Jun 2002
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063N9O
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,729 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Burning bright" indeed 26 Sep 2005
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
I recently purchased this film from Amazon as well as "The Alec Guinness Collection" which includes Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) plus four others: The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Captain's Paradise (1953), and The Ladykillers (1955). Frankly, I was amazed how well each of the six films has held up since I first saw it.
This film is based on a novel by Joyce Carey, The Horse's Mouth. Guinness wrote the screenplay which was nominated for an Academy Award. The director was Ronald Neame who also produced it. Special credit should also be given to the cinematographer, Arthur Ibbetson, who brilliantly captures the beauty of London while sustaining the viewer's focus on both the splendor and squalor of Gulley Jimson's passions. For me, Guinness' portrayal of that aging and impoverished but obsessed painter gives a whole new meaning to the word "eccentric." As in the novel, the spirit of William Blake is very evident. Art is Jimson's religion for which he is not only willing but eager to make whatever sacrifice may be necessary, his or another's. There are both lambs and tigers in Blake's world. As portrayed by Guinness, Jimson seems to combine their dominant characteristics in his own personality and behavior.
Members of the supporting cast are outstanding, notably Mike Morgan (Nosey) and Kay Walsh (Coker) who remain devoted to Jimson throughout his constant use and abuse of them. I hasten to add that, after recently watching this bittersweet film again, I found its several comic moments hilarious. The best of Guinness' comic films always include special "touches" which enrich their appeal. Whether it was his idea or Neame's (or theirs together), clever use is made of Sergei Prokofiev's "Lieutenant Kije" suite throughout the film. I am unable to explain why so few people who claim to be "film buffs" know about this classic...nor why even fewer people have seen it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST SEE FOR ANY MOVIE FAN 6 Jun 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This lived up to all the hype and should be in everybody's Guinness collection....a real gem and a splendid script
which also shows what a brilliant talent Alec was. In my top 50 movies of all time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended Version 23 May 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you know this film then you'll need no review. This is a nice DVD version - the Criterion Collection are normally a cut above the standard releases but many are only available in Region 1. This plays well on my Region 2 player - colours and crispness of image are superb. Alec Guinness and Ernest Thesiger on great form and great to see London in the 1950s.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How To Out Bluff A Film Buff 11 Aug 2003
By Jonathan P. Walters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
If a film buff askes you to name a classic film you realy like you can do no worse than to answer "The Horse's Mouth". Try to suppress a smile as the buff looks at first puzzled and then cautiously admits that they have never heard of let alone seen that movie so can it be that good?
Well actually yes it is explain to them then casually mention that it is the only film that Alec Guinness ever wrote a screenplay for and that he gained an Academy Award nomination for his trouble and that in his "Parkinson" interview in 1977 he almost (but not quite) admitted that it was his favourite film in his long career.
Then you can go on to tell that it is one of the few films from the 1950's that shows London in colour and the music adapted from Sergei Prokofieff's "Lieutenant Kije" gives the film a touch of class and a unique sense of style not to be found in other films of the period.
You may then mention that the acting is superb; as well as Guinness' faultless study of an obsessive and slightly desturbed artist Gulley Jimson. Kay Walsh(Mrs. David Lean)adds humour and pathos as Miss Coker the comugenly woman who none the less has a soft spot for Jimson and music hall turn Renee Houston as Sara Munday (Gulley's ex-wife) adds a bit of bawdy fun to the proceedings. Young actor Mike Morgan gives an energetic perfomance all the more sad because he died before the film's release.
As the discussion continues you may point out that there are a few technical problems; the original three strip Technicolour camaras were so heavy, with their sound blimps, that the camera doesn't move that much during dialoge shots but that makes the actors move more especially when Gulley and Coker are escaping from the police . Also because the film was assembled onto one roll of negative (a common practice in British films until the 1960's )the dissolves are a bit klunky. But any discerning viewer will forgive such imperfections like the bullet holes in a Jimson painting.
You can then round off your discourse by stating that the end of the film, when Jimson sets sail in his wreck of a boat (a metaphor for his own body?), to find something new to paint is sublime.
Then if the film buff is still a bit bemused you can tell them that there is an excellent DVD of the film including an interview with director Ronald Neame and a D.A. Pennebacker Short that accompanied the film on it's original release from Criterion and that no serious DVD collection should be with out it and that comes, as they say, from the horse's mouth.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Burning bright" indeed 25 Jun 2003
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I recently purchased this film from Amazon as well as "The Alec Guinness Collection" which includes Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) plus four others: The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Captain's Paradise (1953), and The Ladykillers (1955). Frankly, I was amazed how well each of the six films has held up since I first saw it.

This film is based on a novel by Joyce Cary, The Horse's Mouth. Guinness wrote the screenplay which was nominated for an Academy Award. The director was Ronald Neame who also produced it. Special credit should also be given to the cinematographer, Arthur Ibbetson, who brilliantly captures the beauty of London while sustaining the viewer's focus on both the splendor and squalor of Gulley Jimson's passions. For me, Guinness' portrayal of that aging and impoverished but obsessed painter gives a whole new meaning to the word "eccentric." As in the novel, the spirit of William Blake is very evident. Art is Jimson's religion for which he is not only willing but eager to make whatever sacrifices may be necessary, his or another's. There are both lambs and tigers in Blake's world and, indeed, in Jimson's world. As portrayed by Guinness, he manifests the dominant characteristics of both lion and lamb in his own personality and behavior.

Members of the supporting cast are outstanding, notably Mike Morgan (Nosey) and Kay Walsh (Coker) who remain devoted to Jimson throughout his constant use and abuse of them. I hasten to add that, after recently watching this bittersweet film again, I found its several comic moments hilarious. The best of Guinness' comic films always include special "touches" which enrich their appeal. Whether it was his idea or Neame's (or theirs together), clever use is made of Sergei Prokofiev's "Lieutenant Kije" suite throughout the film. I am unable to explain why so few people who claim to be "film buffs" know about this classic...nor why even fewer people have seen it.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and poignant Guinness 17 Mar 2000
By Karen Beadling - Published on Amazon.com
First off, this isn't a review--it's a reminiscence. I saw this film in the '60s in Berkeley, and I loved it then partly because it spoke to me of what I believed were the issues of the day--freedom (artistic and otherwise) and the power of the individual. I am now buying the video so that I can at long last have a joyous reunion with the unforgettable characters--the artist's dishevelled, indignant and loyal girlfriend; his equally dishevelled, adoring and unquestioning young admirer, and the artist himself, the outrageous Gully Jimson (Guinness). I still see his raffish little boat on the Thames, chugging along to the regal strains of Prokofiev, just as the often obnoxious and stubborn Jimson is dignified by the strength of his commitment to art and self. (This film was based on the novel by Joyce Cary)
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars should be available! 8 Aug 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I guess I missed a chance to buy this wonderful movie, but with the passing of the great Sir Alec, maybe it will be reissued. I watched this on a foreign flick channel in Milwaukee when I was in 7th or 8th grade--every night for 5 nights! I do believe the effects were permanent and profound-- from my middle class reality I saw another way of looking at the world that was closer to mine than my classmates and family. I learned the music, played it for my orchestra teacher who identified it and became a Prokofiev devotee to boot! Read the book in HS. See It! The public participation mural part is great!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Film, Exemplary DVD 20 Sep 2003
By T. W. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Gulley Jimson is an unappreciated painter, loopily passionate about his art, and defiantly inured to the rigors of poverty & the fear of giving offense.
"The Horse's Mouth" wears its 45 years effortlessly. We are fortunate that Alec Guinness poured his unique talents into imagining the genius of this comic character, getting it down as a screenplay, and rendering so inspired a performance. The result defies imitation. Intelligent viewers will find the comedy as delightfully quick as it must have been when it was first shown.
The Criterion Collection DVD has preserved the Technicolor gorgeously. We are spared the customary tedium of "DVD filler" but given a wonderful short interview with director Ronald Neame.
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