The Rebel (1961 film)
The Rebel (1961) (US title: Call Me Genius) is a satirical comedy film. Starring the British comedian Tony Hancock, it was written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. The film was made by Associated British Picture Corporation and distributed by Warner-Pathé (ABPC's distribution arm).
Hancock plays a downtrodden London office clerk who gives up his office job to pursue full-time his vocation as an artist. Single mindedly, and with an enthusiasm far exceeding any artistic talent (his 'art' has a 'childlike' quality - to put it mildly), he sets to work on his masterpiece Aphrodite at the Waterhole, moving to Paris where he expects his genius will be appreciated. While his 'ideas' and persona gain acceptance (indeed plaudits) among the "beat" set, legitimate art critics, like Sir Charles Broward (George Sanders), scoff at his work. He manages to achieve success, however, when the work of his former roommate, a genuinely talented painter, becomes confused with his own. The confusion is eventually resolved after a series of art exhibitions, and he returns, down but not out, to London, where he pursues his 'art' in defiance of whatever others may think of it.
The film consists of many scenes parodying modern art and poetry. The scene showing Hancock splashing paint onto a canvas and riding a bike over it, is quite reminiscent of Jackson Pollock's technique. The childlike paintings parody the naive style.
Other information of note
The film explores existentialist themes by mocking Parisian intellectual society and portraying the pretensions of the English middle class. Galton and Simpson had previously satirised pseudo-intellectuals in the Hancock's Half Hour radio episode "The Poetry Society", in which Hancock attempts to imitate the style of the pretentious poets and fails, and is infuriated when his idiot friend Bill does the same and wins their untrammeled approval.
The Rebel attempts to transfer Hancock's TV comedy persona to the big screen, and several of his regular supporting cast also appeared, including John Le Mesurier, Liz Fraser and Mario Fabrizi. Although the film was the sixth most popular movie at the British box office for 1961, it was not well received in the USA, where audiences possibly did not understand the highly anglocentric humour. Hancock though was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award in 1962 as Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles:
In 2002, the London Institute of 'Pataphysics organised an exhibition based around the recreation of all the art works seen the film and presented the exhibition as if it were a retrospective of a real unknown artist called Anthony Hancock.
- Tony Hancock...Anthony Hancock
- George Sanders...Sir Charles Broward
- Paul Massie...Paul
- Margit Saad...Margot
- Grégoire Aslan...Carreras
- Dennis Price...Jim Smith
- Irene Handl...Mrs. Crevatte
- John Le Mesurier...Office manager
- Liz Fraser...Waitress
- Nanette Newman...Josey
- Mervyn Johns...Manager of Art Gallery
- Peter Bull...Manager of Art Gallery
- Oliver Reed...Artist in Cafe
- Mario Fabrizi...Coffee Bar attendant
- Bernard Rebel...Art dealer
- Screenplay by: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson
- Directed by: Robert Day
- Photography: Gilbert Taylor
- Editing by: Richard Best
On Mrs. Crevatte seeing one of Hancock's pictures on the wall:
- Mrs. Crevatte; What's this 'orrible thing?
- Hancock; That, is a self-portrait.
- Mrs. Crevatte; Who of?
- Hancock; Laurel and Hardy!!
On Mrs. Crevatte first encountering Hancock's Aphrodite at the Waterhole
- Mrs. Crevatte; Here, have you been having models up here - have there been naked women in my establishment?
- Hancock; Of course there haven't. I can't afford thirty-bob an hour. I did that from memory. That is women as I see them.
- Mrs. Crevatte; Oh! ... You poor man!
The abstract expressionist painting scene:
- Hancock: It's worth 2000 quid of anybody's money that is!
As he takes his leave of the Paris Art World at his final exhibition:
- Hancock: Ladies and gentlemen, I shall now bid you all good day. I'm off! I know what I was cut out to do and I should have done it long ago. YOU'RE ALL RAVING MAD!! None of you know what you're looking at. You wait 'til I'm dead, you'll see I was right!
- Brotchie, Alistair & Irvin, Magnus - Encomia for Anthony Hancock: the Rebel (London Institute of Pataphysics), 2002 (ISBN 1900565307)