GRACE CONWAY Looks at the Films
THE HORSE'S MOUTH Certificate U: Gaumont Director: Ronald Neame JOYCE CAREY'S hook from which Alec Guinness has made his screenplay introduced the reading public to a character that was half genius, half monster. When the story opens Gulley Jimson, a famous painter, is nearing seventy. He has just come out of jail and no sooner is he lout than he gets in wrong with the law again. He steals, he knocks his women
_ about, he breaks windows, he is
indifferent to suffering including . his own. True, he is a philosopher -and theoretically he reaches for the stars, a ragged, unwashed philosopher and strangely out of -tune with 20th century painters. ' who all seem to live comfortably enough.
It is easy to see how any actor would be tempted to act this creature and it is no fault of Sir Alec, director Ronald Neame or the company of players in support that after the densely written book the film should be something of run anticlimax.
To begin with, in the necessary compression, much has had to be sacrificed. Cokey. the barmaid. for instance, has been considerably cut down and Sall. Jimson's former mistress, is far younger than the original—a bouncy 50 as played by Renee Houston instead of a pathetic ageing woman as Carey so vividly describes her.
All this carping comes of having re-read the book recently but I musn't forget that lots who will be going to see the film—and don't miss it—won't have read it at all.
For you. I will just say that this is the story of an obsessed painter whose early works are in some of the world's principal galleries but who. like Picasso, has discarded his early and money-making style and is forever seeking to create something new. He is willing to suffer (and let others suffer) any hardship, any punishment in its pursuit.
Among Gulley's victims arc the two aforesaid ladies played with gusto by Kay Walsh (Cokey) and winsomely by Renee Houston (Sall); art collector Hickson (played with appropriate petulance by Ernest Thesiger), millionaire Sir William Beeder and his wife (Robert Coote and Veronica Turleigh). Finally there is Gulley's indefatigable champion and disciple, Nosey, which was to be 30-year-old Mike Morgan's last rdle—for he died of meningitis almost immediately the picture was finished.
Of course the whole film stands by and revolves around Sir Alec Guinness's Gulley—and with only an occasional furtive pinch to suggest the old rascal's bawdy side, this is a cleaner, milder character altogether than the original. But Sir Alec, even in this watered down version rivets the attention and dominates the scene. He gets over the Blake lines (Gully was a disciple of Blake) and even. at the end throws in a bit of Chesterton (on his own account) for if Gulley loved Blake I know Sir Alec loves Chesterton.
1 think you can call this 50 per cent Carey and 50 per cent Guinness—a pretty good compromise as films based on novels go.
GIG' Certificate A: Columbia Director: Vincente Minelli L ONDON'S newest and very " bright cinema in Shaftesbury Avenue opens with a musical that is all delight.
You know that team of Lerner and Loewe who are responsible for the record breaker in Drury Lane—yes. I mean "My Fair Lady". Well here they are again in an adaptation of Colette's famous novel--and what "My Fair Lady" is to Drury Lane, this will most, certainly be to Shaftesbury Avenue.
It is impossible to fault it, its Cecil Beaton decor, sublime, (Paris 1900); its music, its dialogue —and its cast.
Gigi (Leslie Caron) comes of a dynasty of charmers to whom matrimony means nothing but who, like the Geisha of Japan, make a life study of men and how to please them. With the practical French approach, however, men must pay with the best of everything for thcse services.
Into this world of go-getters and strategists is born a "sport" or a "freak", one Gigi who rebels against the code, and who weighs the gee-gaws—the diamonds and the emeralds—against a normal life and finds them wanting, Gigi gets her man (Louis Jourdan) winning her battle against her grandrnama, (liermione Gingold). her aunt (Isabel Jeans), and surprising the young man's seasoned boulvardier of an uncle (Maurice Chevalier).
That is the whole story—and it is felicitously presented by the Caron-Jourdan-Chevalier team— with Chevalier just that much ahead of his juniors as one would expect.
As for the cinema it is the last word in comfort in the modern manner.
FORTUNELLA Certificate A: Cameo-Poly Director: Edouardo de Filippo
alULETTA MASINA is posing
her friends and admirers over here a bit of a problem. We have seen so few good Italian films lately, and consequently so few good performances that this clever actress has for some time been out folorn hope.
Is she straining our enthusiasm too far in putting on, as she does here, a replica of the performances she gave in "La Strada" and in "Cabiria'"! In all three she uses the same, well let us say, props. A thatch of uncombed tow hair; baby socks, boy's shoes and a ragbag apparel.
She uses. too. the same mannerisms. Fascinating as these are— I, for one, am hypnotised by her skipping. her scampering, her funny grimacesthey arc all too like what we have seen before.
As for the film itself—it shows us a pretty scabrous picture of life among the stallholders of Rome's flea market with Signora Masina as a stallholder who is exploited, deceived and knocked about by her parasite lover (Alberto Wordi).
To escape this trying life Fortunella persuades herself she is the illegitimate daughter of one of Rome's princes—and her efforts to establish this relationship provide some of the brightest and happiest moments of the film.
But if Giulietta Masina is to maintain her title as one of the "aces" of the Italian screen we must see her in something that will tax her versatility a bit more than it is taxed here.