MONTHLY FILM BULLETIN
THE BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE
Volume 28,No.326,March 1961,pages 33-4
REBEL, THE (1960)
Feeling that England has nothing to offer him, that his landlady misunderstands him and office routine is crushing his spirit, Hancock moves to Paris to pursue his career as a painter. His work is childishly terrible, but a bogus intellectual set takes him up and confirms his confidence in his genius. He becomes so patronising to Paul, the unsuccessful painter with whom he shares a studio, that the latter goes dejectedly back to England, leaving his paintings behind. Sir Charles Brouard, art critic and dealer, sees Paul's paintings, takes them for Hancock's, and promotes a highly successful exhibition. Suspicion only creeps in when Hancock, commissioned to sculpt a bust of a rich patron's wife, produces a work as hideous as it is deplorable. Sir Charles has organised a London show for Hancock, who calls on Paul in the hope that he can produce the necessary paintings. Paul, who is now painting in the Hancock manner, is acclaimed as a brilliant artist after a confession scene at the gallery; and Hancock returns to his landlady, his favourite statue, and his conviction that one day his talent will be recognised.
Tony Hancock, the funniest of the television comedians, has made the dangerous transition to the larger screen rather more happily than most. The script, by his TV writers, keeps the element of brave fantasy, the conviction of unrecognised grandeur; and Hancock at work, chipping away at his appalling statue, squirting paint with bland optimism over his action painting, is a fine figure. One misses, though, his anchor-man, the astringent Sidney James, and the whole background of down-at-heel respectability. The more prosaic the setting, the funnier Hancock seems; transplanted into a conventionally silly screen art world, he is submerged among the other grotesques. The Rebel gives its hero some agreeably deflationary dialogue; but the director, Robert Day, lacks the confidence to allow humour to take its time in developing and continually tries to force it by over-emphasis. The scene of office routine and the beatnik party in Paris are cases of thin material made to look thinner by the handling. All the same, enough of Hancock's gloomy truculence and shabby splendour come through; he makes his paint-crazed insurance clerk very likeable.
The Monthly Film Bulletin was published by the British Film Institute between 1934 and 1991. Initially aimed at distributors and exhibitors as well as filmgoers, it carried reviews and details of all UK film releases. In 1991, the Bulletin was absorbed by Sight and Sound magazine.