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The Horse's Mouth [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1958]

Alec Guinness stars in director Ronald Neame's The Horse's Mouth. Criterion has done a respectable job at making sure this 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is mostly clear and crisp. While there is some appearance of wear and tear in the image (including some grain and soft colors), overall, the black levels appear solid while the colors are well-saturated. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English and is very mediocre. As with most 1.0 sound mixes, this one tends to be somewhat muffled at times. However, the bulk of this soundtrack is free and clear of most excessive hiss and distortion. Also included on this disc are English subtitles. The extra features on this disc are small but substantial -- included on The Horse's Mouth is a fascinating 19 minute interview with the director, a documentary short by D.A. Pennebaker titled Daybreak Express, which ran before The Horse's Mouth during its theatrical run in New York, a video interview with Pennebaker which runs before his short film, and a theatrical trailer for the film.

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    Special Features

    • New high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director Ronald Neame and enhanced for widescreen televisions
    • 2001 video interview with Ronald Neame
    • D.A. Pennebaker's short documentary film "Daybreak Express," which opened the original New York theatrical run of "The Horse's Mouth," plus a video introduction by Pennebaker
    • Original theatrical trailer
    • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
    • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition


    The Horse's Mouth
    The Horse's Mouth is an acting and a writing tour de force for Alec Guinness, who authored the screenplay in addition to starring in the film. Gulley Jimson (Alec Guinness) is an aging artist with a reputation as a genius, though he lives an impoverished life. Jimson has reached the point in his life where he no longer feels any need to moderate his irascible persona -- he has a taste for alcohol and a tendency toward boisterous spirits where the ladies are concerned -- in search of canvasses to paint and commissions that will allow him to live comfortably, and Guinness lives the role to the hilt. Released from jail for some indiscretion, he immediately begins harassing his wealthiest patron, Hickson (Ernest Thesiger), for money. When that fails, he insinuates himself into the home of a would-be patron, Sir William and Lady Beeder (Robert Coote, Veronica Turleigh), and manages to destroy their home and that of their downstairs neighbor with a huge block of stone and some help from a sculptor friend (Michael Gough). Courted by a potential buyer, he is desperate to retrieve one of his early works from his former wife, but even that prospect is closed off to him. Finally, with help from his young admirer, Nosey (Mike Morgan), his friend, Coker (Kay Walsh), and some art students eager to work with the legendary Gulley Jimson, he begins painting his largest canvas of all. The painting is completed and promptly destroyed. Jimson finally takes off in his wreck of a houseboat for the open sea, eyeing the huge hulls of the passing ships as potential canvasses to paint. As he disappears up the river, Coker looks on in panic and Nosey calls after him, declaring his admiration for Jimson and who he is and what his work means -- knowing for certain that he can't be heard. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Alec Guinness
      Alec Guinness - Gully Jimson
    • Kay Walsh
      Kay Walsh - Coker
    • Image coming soon
      Mike Morgan - Nosey
    • Renee Houston
      Renee Houston - Sarah Monday
    • Robert Coote
      Robert Coote - Sir William Beeder

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