Friday Film (88)

Having marked the 50th anniversary of Tony Hancock’s death with that little posting the other day, I want to use this entry in our ongoing film music series to highlight something that happens in the score of Hancock’s film The Rebel (1961). It’s been on my mind for several years (on and off); I’ve not written about it until now for, basically, two reasons…

The first is that, whenever I’ve previously searched online for this film or extracts from it, I didn’t find clips of all the bits I was looking for: videos have come and gone, but the things I needed were never all there at the same time. My recent search for Hancock material, however, revealed that someone had actually uploaded the entire movie to YouTube and not had it immediately booted off: it’s been there since March, and now that I know about it, I’m going to make use of it while I can!

My second reason for not having previously written about this film is that … well, I’m afraid I don’t find it entirely satisfactory. Far from it being what one would wish it to be — a 105-minute ‘Hancock’s Half-Hour’, as it were! — it is, to my mind, confused in its aims and messy in its execution: it seems to me that, here and there, it really doesn’t work at all; and there are even bits that I can hardly bear to watch, they seem so painfully misjudged…

I don’t want to go on about this, least of all in a film music posting; but it might be worth pointing out that Hancock’s long-standing writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (who hadn’t had a full-scale film script produced before) saddle themselves with a comic-dramatic writing problem that must be close to insuperable. For it is surely the case that a putatively satirical story in which a would-be artist of staggering giftlessness gains rapid acceptance and respect within a hyper-pretentious ‘art set’ is allowing itself too many ‘cheap shot’ depictions: the possibility of meaningful comedy vanishes beneath what look to be the flailings of a reactionary philistinism too much in love with its own contempt. Continue reading

Advertisements