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Tony Hancock double bill. In 'The Rebel', a young clerk dreams of success as a painter and moves to Paris to fulfill his ambition. Fame and fortune do indeed come his way, but only after he passes off other artists' work as his own. In 'The Punch and Judy Man', Hancock plays a seaside entertainer who tries and fails to establish himself as a citizen of importance.
The Rebel (1961) and The Punch and Judy Man (1963) are the only two feature films made expressly as star vehicles for the great television comic Tony Hancock. The Rebel is by far the more ambitious, being in colour with Parisian locations, a large cast, and not least a supporting role for international star George Sanders. The opening rebellion against office life surely inspired The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, while references follow to Look Back in Anger (1958) and Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960) and Some Like It Hot (1959). Hancock goes to Paris to follow his artistic muse and as he rises through the art world his naivety is taken for genius, allowing for some very funny moments and spot-on satire, which are just as relevant today as 40 years ago.
Filmed in black-and-white in Bognor Regis, The Punch and Judy Man is a more modest yet evocative portrait of life in a small coastal resort. Hancock is the titular beach entertainer who is happy to live from day to day with the affable companionship of John Le Mesurier and Hugh Lloyd. The problem is he's burdened with a socially ambitious wife, Sylvia Syms. Gentle humour comes from Hancock's frustrations as a proto-Basil Fawlty, and the film, packed with familiar British character actors, has an old-fashioned charm. It makes for an enjoyable supporting feature to The Rebel, which is undoubtedly a minor classic.
On the DVD: Tony Hancock Double Feature presents both films at 4:3 ratio. The earlier film looks decidedly cropped in several scenes, though the latter survives the reformatting largely unscathed. The Rebel's colour is faded and the image grainy, while The Punch and Judy Man generally has a much stronger black and white image. Even so, there is some flickering and print damage. The music is distorted in The Rebel but the mono sound is fine during The Punch and Judy Man. There are no extras. --Gary S Dalkin
The Rebel is a much underrated classic of British cinema. Abstract, with an underlying nuance of the pink triangle. Very funny.Published 4 months ago by neal thorley