Kay Walsh

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Great Expectations (1946) Review


Very Good
The definitive adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic is this one from David Lean, featuring John Mills as the adult version of Pip, an orphan who inherits wealth and status from an unnamed benefactor, and woos the woman of his youthful dreams along the way. The film can be stilted in that 1940s way, most notably during a boxing exhibition in which one fighter has time to apologizing before taking a knockout punch, but Lean does wonders with setting and transforms Dickens' dialogue into something worthy of watching.

Oliver Twist (1948) Review


Very Good
The canonical movie version of Dickens's Oliver Twist, this is as straight-up and authentic as it gets. Oliver asks for "more," ends up adopted, joins a street gang, and pretty much comes full circle, without surprise and with apt attention to period detail. The movie, however, remains mired in controversy due to Alec Guinness's Fagin, which drew such rabid charges of anti-Semitism (check out his nose) that it was banned in Israel. Definitely the version to see before you subject yourself, say, to Polanski's bloated 2005 version.

Tunes Of Glory Review


Good
After WWII, Alec Guinness gets passed over for promotion of command of his Scottish garrison. This leads to a tussle between he and the new boss, played by John Mills. What follows is the slow decay of morale at the base, followed by the mental breakdown of Guinness in what is often heralded as one of the best performances ever put to film. Too bad then that the story gives Guinness and Mills little chance to shine, as the script is crafted from weirdly insidery Scots arcana (lots of dancing, lots of bagpiping) and interferes with the character study. Interesting counterpoiont to Guinness's Bridge on the River Kwai, but the overall, washed-out look and mopey pacing of the film drag it down.

The Horse's Mouth Review


Good
Alec Guinness channels Peter O'Toole in a rare comedic role in The Horse's Mouth, wherein he plays the beloved, irascible painter Gulley Jimson, from the novel of the same name.

It is bizarre to see Guinness strutting about a fancy London flat, drumming on a silver tray like a tambourine and muttering in a throat-tangling, guttural roar, but he loves the role so much it's hard not to like him -- even if he is a jerk. Guinness adapted the book himself, earning a solo credit for the screenplay.

Continue reading: The Horse's Mouth Review

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