Starring the indomitable TONY HANCOCK, The Rebel is the great comedian’s only truly successful film and features many classic moments, typical of a Galton and Simpson screenplay.
A disillusioned commuter, Anthony Hancock yearns to be an artist, so sets out for Paris, defiantly throwing his bowler hat over the side of the cross-channel steamer, believing that only there among the artists on the Left Bank will his genius be recognised.
He becomes friendly with Paul (PAUL MASSIE), an English artist, and gaily joins the Beatnik group of the Left Bank where his nonsensical statements about art create a stir and he is accepted as a genius. In an ironic stab at twentieth century art movements such as Dadaism, he even persuades his artist friends that his childlike daubs are a new form of art.
When Paul goes back to London, he leaves his paintings with Anthony who shows them to art connoisseur, Brouard (GEORGE SANDERS). Brouard hails the discovery of a great artist even though Anthony tries to explain that the paintings are not his, and an exhibition is arranged.
The exhibition is such a success that Anthony is invited to stay on the yacht of a Greek shipping millionaire, Aristotle Carreras (GRÉGOIRE ASLAN), and commissioned to produce more work. Anthony flees back to London, where he finds Paul working in an office and persuades him to create the new exhibition. It is only when the London exhibition opens – stocked with Paul’s recent paintings – that Anthony realises at last, how completely he has hoodwinked the art world.
The film was premiered at the Beirut Film Festival to immediate critical success; a considerable achievement given that few British comedians have made such a spectacular success in their first significant film, including Peter Sellers who took some time to become an international star.
UK / Associated British / 105 minute episode / 1960
Writers: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson, Tony Hancock / Cinematography: Gilbert Taylor / Music: Frank Cordell / Producer: W.A. Whitaker / Director: Robert Day
Cast: Tony Hancock, George Sanders, Paul Massie, Margit Saad, Grégoire Aslan, Dennis Price, Irene Handl, John Le Mesurier, Mervyn Johns, Peter Bull
US title: Call Me Genius