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An unscrupulous artist fights to realize his vision of the perfect mural.
In London, artist Gulley Jimson is released from prison after serving a month's sentence for being a public nuisance. Frustrated by a shortage of funds, Gulley immediately resumes his harassment of wealthy Mr. Hickson, who owns several of Gulley's paintings sold to him by Gulley's ex-wife Sarah Monday. Familiar with Gulley's determined and imaginative attempts to con him out of the paintings or money, Hickson refuses all of the painter's calls. Gulley then turns to pub owner "Cookie" D. Coker for a loan, and explains his intention to retrieve his paintings in order to sell them to art aficionado Sir William Beeder. When Gulley assures Cookie that he will pay his outstanding bar bill in full once he makes the sale, she agrees to a small loan. The next morning, concern over her investment prompts Cookie to visit Gulley on board his houseboat home where she insists that he demand his share of the painting proceeds from Sarah. Gulley reluctantly agrees, but when they arrive at Sarah's, the painter falls into a romantic reverie recalling the early days of his marriage. When Sarah explains that she sold Gulley's works to pay off his enormous debt, Cookie insists that Sarah has swindled Gulley. Sarah agrees to write a note to Hickson acknowledging the sale of eighteen paintings and admits that one painting was lost. Gulley and Cookie take the note to Hickson who points out that he owes Gulley nothing as he has already given the artist a number of loans. Hickson does agree, however, to give Gulley two pounds a week in exchange for the artist's promise to cease hounding him. Hickson also reveals that Sarah has retained one painting, the well-known Woman in the Bath. When Gulley and Cookie show no sign of leaving, Hickson summons a constable forcing Gulley to flee without remanding any money. Gulley then visits art patrons Lord and Lady Beeder at their luxury apartment where he learns from their private secretary, A. W. Arnold Alabaster, that the couple is leaving on a six-week trip to Bermuda the following day. Captivated by a large bare wall in the Beeder's apartment, Gulley offers to sell Sir William the Woman in the Bath and paint a mural of the resurrection of Lazarus on the wall for free. Sir William, a close friend of Hickson's, agrees to consider the offer, but wonders how Gulley will get the painting. Hoping to win the couple's favor, Gulley counsels Lady Beeder to continue her interest in water colors and to learn the difference between success and failure in the art world. Later, Gulley's enthusiastic drinking results in his passing out and he is carried to Arnold's room. Awakening the following day to discover that the Beeders have departed, Gulley persuades the house cleaner to give him the apartment keys. Dressed in Sir William's clothes, Gulley convinces the skeptical concierge that he is staying at the Beeders' with their permission, then sneaks out to pawn their valuable clock. With the help of a young painting apprentice and friend named Nosey, Gulley rounds up a number of props and various models for his mural. After several days, fellow artist and sculpter Abel discovers that Gulley is living at the Beeders' apartment, and, to the painter's annoyance, insists upon sharing the luxurious digs. Despite Gulley's protestations, Abel moves in and arranges for the delivery of an enormous marble block, which crashes through the top floor of the apartment. Undeterred, Abel takes up sculpting and Nosey tends to the men and their models. Several weeks later, Abel and Gulley quarrel about the merit of their finished works and Gulley sadly agrees that his mural does not live up to his expectations. When the Beeders return, they are stunned by the condition of their apartment and Gulley hastily returns to his houseboat. He discovers Cookie there, as she has lost her pub and apartment due to her association with an "ex-con." Saddened by Cookie's news that Hickson has passed away, Gulley is then startled to find out that Hickson willed his paintings to the nation. Days later at the Hickson exhibition of his paintings, Gulley runs into Sarah, and, hoping to wheedle her out of the Woman in the Bath, takes her home. Sarah passes a package off as the painting, but after Gulley realizes she has tricked him, he returns, yet Sarah refuses to surrender the painting. Angry and frustrated, Gulley moves out of his houseboat to an abandoned building scheduled for demolition. Hoping to inspire Gulley to resume painting, Nosey points out a large bare wall in the building and soon Gulley is planning another mural, offering lessons in exchange for students providing supplies and help in painting his rendition of Noah's ark. The completed project so impresses the neighbors that they unite to prevent the building's demolition. To spare the workmen feeling guilty, Gulley then destroys the wall with a bulldozer. Pleased to have united the community in an appreciation of art and determined to continue living in his own way, Gulley then returns to his houseboat and, as Cookie and Nosey wave goodbye, sails down the Thames alone in search of more artistic adventures.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 11 Nov 1958|
|Release Date:||1958||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp., Lopert Films, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Knightsbridge Films, Ltd.|
|Duration(mins):||93 or 96-97||Country:||Great Britain and United States|
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The Horse's Mouth
This is the funniest of all british motion pictures. Alex Guiness is superb. The pace of the movie for the most part is non stop, and Gulley as an artist...