The Rebel, 1961
By 1961Tony Hancock was one of Britain’s biggest stars, thanks to the superb scripts written for him by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. His Hancock’s Half Hour TV and Radio shows were now behind him and he was looking at moving forward. Whilst the Half Hour Series had come to an end his final and possibly one of his best series for BBC Television ‘Hancock’ (again written by Galton and Simpson) had yet to air.
Perhaps bridging the gap between the final series of Hancock’s Half Hour and Hancock was The Rebel, Tony Hancock’s first big screen outing. He had agreed a two film deal with his writers, this was the first offering.
The film explored some existentialist themes by mocking the Parisian intellectual society and portraying the pretensions of the English middle class.
Galton and Simpson had previously persued a similar theme satirising pseudo-intellectuals in the Hancock’s Half Hour radio episode “The Poetry Society”, here Hancock had attempted to imitate the style of the pretentious poets and failed, and was infuriated when his idiot friend Bill did the same and won their untrammeled approval.
In The Rebel, Hancock transfers his successful comic popular in his television series to the big screen. With him came a superb supporting cast, including: close friend John Le Mesurier, Liz Fraser and Mario Fabrizi.
The film was well received in Britain, where it was the sixth most popular movie at the British box office for 1961. However it was not so well received in the USA, where it was felt that 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
A deal with writers Galton and Simpson to produce a second film never materialised. Galton and Simpson prepared a script but Hancock rejected it on the grounds he was looking for something more “international”
However Hancock did make a second film “The Punch And Judy Man” his first non Galton and Simpson collaberation. Filmed mainly in Bognor Regis, the film failed to live up to either Hancock’s international expectation’s or that of the critics.
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.
Written By: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Produced By: W.A. Whittaker
Directed By: Robert Day
Release Date: 7th March 1961 London (UK)
IN MEMORY OF: ALAN SIMPSON 27 November 1929 – 8 February 2017