The Rebel (1961 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The film The Rebel (1961) (US title: Call Me Genius) is a satirical comedy parodying the art world and starring the British comedian Tony Hancock, and written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.



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. While his "ideas" and persona gain acceptance (indeed plaudits) among the "beat" set, legitimate art critics (e.g. George Sanders) scoff at his work. He manages to achieve success, however, when the work of his former roommate, another artist, becomes confused with his own. The confusion is eventually resolved after a series of art exhibitions, and he returns, down but not out, to London, where he pursues his "art" in defiance of whatever others may think of it.

Other information of note

The film explores existentialist themes by mocking Parisian intellectual society in general and portraying the pretensions of the English lower middle class in particular. It attempts to transfer Hancock's TV comedy persona to the big screen, and several of his regular supporting cast also appeared, including John Le Mesurier, Liz Fraser and Mario Fabrizi. Although the film did moderately well, it was not well received in the USA, who possibly did not understand the highly anglocentric humour.

Nominated for a BAFTA Film Award in 1962 - Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles: Tony Hancock

The film's plot bears some similarities to the Hancock's Half Hour radio episode "The Poetry Society" (also written by Galton and Simpson), in which Hancock's character attempts to ingratiate himself with a group of snobbish pseudo-intellectuals but is rejected because he is unable to imitate their pretentious poetic style.

Both lead actors later committed suicide in real life, Hancock in 1968 and Sanders in 1972.

In 2002 the London Institute of Pataphysics organised an exhibition based around the recreation of all the art works seen the film and presented the exhibition as if it were a retrospective of a real unknown artist called Anthony Hancock.



  • Brotchie, Alistair & Irvin, Magnus - Encomia for Anthony Hancock: the Rebel (London Institute of Pataphysics), 2002 (ISBN 1900565307)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Rebel (1961 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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