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  1. #1
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    Just wondered if there are any fans of this film out there? Based on a DH Lawrence story, and starring child actor John Howard Davies, I was terrified when I watched this film on TV as a youngster. Saw it again a few years ago and was still gripped. Anyone else?

  2. #2
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    Does anyone have any information and opinions about this film? I notice that in addition to John Howard Davies as the child lead, there are several major British film stars of the time (1951)

  3. #3
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    Adapted from a story by DH Lawrence and,erm,that's about it.Aside from the fact that it's very good and gets an outing on TV about once every eighteen months,usually on Channel 4.It got an airing on June 12th 2002 but it's been on once more since then,this year I think.

  4. #4
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    Thanks Guys, for your information. This is truly a site that fills all the gaps in my British film knowledge - which I am continually expanding.



    I think the ventriloquist scene in "Dead of Night" was really good. And no matter how times I watch it, Hugo Fitch still sends a shiver down my spine!

  5. #5
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    Tony in Ottawa:

    Happily The Rocking Horse Winner is deservedly still available on video (of course others which deserve it too are not). Anyway, earlier this year I was able to buy a copy in NTSC format here in Canada, so I can now watch it whenever I want
    I've found a dvd version on the web that has a whole load of interesting extras. This is a region 1 dvd (which can now be played on multi-region dvd players) on sale at Amazon, USA. Does anyone know about this dvd, and if so, is it any good?

  6. #6
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    Assume you haven't been waiting by the computer for a reply for 18 months! Down here in Oz our national TV (ABC) seem to have a library of (I'm guessing) about 50 British films from the 30's-50's which they rotate daily in the early hours of the morning over and over and over and....... Last night was TRHW's turn and it was just as eerily good then as the first 20 times it's been on. Waiting now for The Tunnel to be reprised for the umpteenth time. Interestingly, one of our state engineers must have seen The Tunnel because a couple of recent highway tunnels in local hills have entrances exactly as depicted in the last scene of the film!

  7. #7
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    Does this film ever show up on tv these days, havent seen it since I was a kid in the seventies?

  8. #8
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    It's been on a number of times in the last five years or so, usually on Channel Four, I believe.



    Nick

  9. #9
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    Thanks for that Nick.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Captain Oates's Avatar
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    There is an excellent R1 DVD available:



    Great extras as well...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Oates
    There is an excellent R1 DVD available:

    Great extras as well...
    Some details from the Amazon review:



    Extras: Three different versions of "Rocking Horse Winner" are included. The most interesting is a 22 minute short film by Michael Almereyda, who later directed the 2000 movie "Hamlet" starring Ethan Hawke. The short is set in the present and stars Eric Stoltz. Filmed in a grainy manner with pixelation used throughout, it's interesting but the acting is often poor and the story is disjointed. The two other versions are audio-only: a reading taken from public radio and excerpts from a libretto opera. Highly unusual extras!
    I'd agree except I'd have to say that the Almereyda short isn't interesting at all: in fact it was incomprehensible and dull.

    (and I'm afraid I don't think much of his Hamlet)

    The audio extras are much better.



    The film is excellent of course, but if I'd found my son riding a rocking horse in such a frenzied manner (Equus-esque and as the reviewer above says - Oedipal) I'd have had the thing sent to the charity shop straightaway and substituted something safer and more suitable for his age: a ventriloquist's dummy for example. What possible harm could one of those do?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I saw this for the first time last week, and would say that it is one of the most under-rated outstanding films I have seen.



    There are many things I have always enjoyed about British films that I do not find elsewhere - either in American films or in any other. One is the genre of what I would call low-key quality character-dramas. What I mean by that is: a drama where the subtlety and the nuance are as important as the action and the dialogue. What happens between the lines is even more impotrant than what is stated. There is a restrained intensity that I enjoy very much. There are so many layers in a film of that type when it really works, and The Rocking Horse Winner works very well.



    A film of this dependent even more than most on an excellent cast, in the lead as well as the minor roles. I had seen Valerie Hobson in other films, and I thought she was talented and good-looking, but a little too cool and removed. I couldn't see how Jeans Simmons turned into her in the excellent David Lean Great Expectations.



    Here, she gives a complex performance that uses that coolness to great effect. She is greedy and spoiled, but she is not remotely aware of her destructiveness. She is affectionate and kind with her children, although selfish and lacking in awareness. There is a marvelous scene towards the end when she connects with her son as he has been connecting with her. He is no longer a mystety to her, and she starts to understand.



    I liked the straightforward tone of the film. Although the boy is clearly the hero and is portrayed in a sympathetic light, he is also obviously very unusual in his intuitive understanding of the atmosphere around him and it is too much to expect that others would automatically understand. It is not romanticized. The suggestion of a supernatural connection in his knowledge of the winners is never blatant, but only suggested. There are no sentimental scenes.



    His uncle's friendship is genuine, but also self-centered. Ronald Squire brings relief to the intensity as the cheerfully materialistic uncle.



    I was fascinated to read that John Mills was the producer and has a disappointingly small role. He is one of my favorite actors and keeps surprising me. However, his role as an actor here is so small that it almost disapears.



    The performance of John Howard Davies is the peak of the film. His performance is so compelling that it seems impossible that he will keep it up through the entire film, but he does. Paul is an introverted, perceptive boy whose inner life dominates the story. That is captured on film. It is remarkable.



    Anthony Pelissier's direction allows the house itself to become a living character, a somewhat sinister character like the rocking horse. That has to happen for the film to make sense, and it does.



    My favorite scene: Paul looks out at the windy night sky and for a split second, the moving clouds seem to take the form of racing horses.

  13. #13
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    A very good film indeed with a top class cast.



    It seems to have an underlining darkness about it though that stops it being one of my favourites.



    Dave.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Brent
    A very good film indeed with a top class cast.

    It seems to have an underlining darkness about it though that stops it being one of my favourites.

    Dave.
    Yes, it certainly does have that darkness. It is a genuinely haunting film. The house itself is haunted, or at least it is suggested. It is never entirely clear how much is in Paul's mind and how much is supernatural.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Their are quite a few interpretations about Paul including that it's a story of greed and capitalism, or even sexual connotations, but I think he's just a young boy that wishes to please his elders.



    Quite brave of them not to give it a genuine sober ending; apart from Paul riding the horse the other image that sticks with me is it burning away as the Valerie Hobson and John Mills discuss what to do with the winnings.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7
    Their are quite a few interpretations about Paul including that it's a story of greed and capitalism, or even sexual connotations, but I think he's just a young boy that wishes to please his elders.

    Quite brave of them not to give it a genuine sober ending; apart from Paul riding the horse the other image that sticks with me is it burning away as the Valerie Hobson and John Mills discuss what to do with the winnings.
    Yes, agreed - it is an exceptionally straightforward and unsentimental film.



    I like the moment at the end, in the scene you mention, where John Mills disagrees with Valerie Hobson's insistence that the money be burned. It's good money - why burn it?



    He doesn't say it with emotion or intensity. He just says it in a matter-of-fact way. There is some impersonal coldness in both him and the uncle - and far more in the father, who seems to be completely removed, not only from his family but from everything.



    It's intriguing: the focus is on the mother, but the father is barely aware of other people at all. The uncle is just as greedy as his sister. He is simply more pragmatic and shrewd.

  17. #17
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    John Howard Davies was among the best of child actors of this era--the most convincing Oliver Twist as well.

  18. #18
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    I really like this film, I bought it almost on a whim despite less than encouraging comments in eg Halliwell.



    I love 'discovering' films that turn out to be infinitely better than I ever expected - another example being The Harder They Fall with Humphrey Bogart, a truly great film about the wretchedness of the boxing world which never gets the acclaim it deserves.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimR
    I saw this for the first time last week, and would say that it is one of the most under-rated outstanding films I have seen.

    There are many things I have always enjoyed about British films that I do not find elsewhere - either in American films or in any other. One is the genre of what I would call low-key quality character-dramas. What I mean by that is: a drama where the subtlety and the nuance are as important as the action and the dialogue. What happens between the lines is even more impotrant than what is stated. There is a restrained intensity that I enjoy very much. There are so many layers in a film of that type when it really works, and The Rocking Horse Winner works very well.

    A film of this dependent even more than most on an excellent cast, in the lead as well as the minor roles. I had seen Valerie Hobson in other films, and I thought she was talented and good-looking, but a little too cool and removed. I couldn't see how Jeans Simmons turned into her in the excellent David Lean Great Expectations.

    Here, she gives a complex performance that uses that coolness to great effect. She is greedy and spoiled, but she is not remotely aware of her destructiveness. She is affectionate and kind with her children, although selfish and lacking in awareness. There is a marvelous scene towards the end when she connects with her son as he has been connecting with her. He is no longer a mystety to her, and she starts to understand.

    I liked the straightforward tone of the film. Although the boy is clearly the hero and is portrayed in a sympathetic light, he is also obviously very unusual in his intuitive understanding of the atmosphere around him and it is too much to expect that others would automatically understand. It is not romanticized. The suggestion of a supernatural connection in his knowledge of the winners is never blatant, but only suggested. There are no sentimental scenes.

    His uncle's friendship is genuine, but also self-centered. Ronald Squire brings relief to the intensity as the cheerfully materialistic uncle.



    I was fascinated to read that John Mills was the producer and has a disappointingly small role. He is one of my favorite actors and keeps surprising me. However, his role as an actor here is so small that it almost disapears.



    The performance of John Howard Davies is the peak of the film. His performance is so compelling that it seems impossible that he will keep it up through the entire film, but he does. Paul is an introverted, perceptive boy whose inner life dominates the story. That is captured on film. It is remarkable.



    Anthony Pelissier's direction allows the house itself to become a living character, a somewhat sinister character like the rocking horse. That has to happen for the film to make sense, and it does.



    My favorite scene: Paul looks out at the windy night sky and for a split second, the moving clouds seem to take the form of racing horses.
    Ronald Squire always seems to play the same type of character, but he does it awfully well.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: Australia IlllIIllllIIii's Avatar
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    I bet the horrifying scene with the almost shirtless child in this movie was one of the influences on Peter Shaffer to write Equus.

    See note 7 here�

    https://books.google.com.au/books?id...0equus&f=false

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