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The Rocking Horse Winner
The Rocking Horse Winner
Actors: Valerie Hobson, John Howard Davies, Ronald Squire, John Mills, Hugh Sinclair
Director: Anthony Pelissier
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2002     1hr 31min

Based on one of D.H. Lawrence?s most enduring short works, this haunting tale of a boy driven to the limits of his own life by his mother?s wanton materialism is finally available on DVD for the first time. Plagued by his...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Valerie Hobson, John Howard Davies, Ronald Squire, John Mills, Hugh Sinclair
Director: Anthony Pelissier
Creators: John Mills, Desmond Dickinson, Anthony Pelissier, John Seabourne Sr., Earl St. John, D.H. Lawrence
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Homevision
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 09/24/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/1950
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1950
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Above and beyond the film
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This film drips atmosphere. A creepy, gothic, moral tale of sorts, given a classic British treatment. Not only is the presentation of the film above par - it looks great - the entire package is stellar. Between the original story reprinted in its entirety, a reading by John Shea, and another film interpretation by Michael Almeryda, shot in Pixilvision, this has to be the be-all, end-all examination of a written piece and its various adaptations. Really cool. Enough said."
Unusual British Film
Westley | Stuck in my head | 02/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

""The Rocking Horse Winner" is adapted from the out-of-print short story by D. H. Lawrence. An upper-middle class family in post-war Britain is strapped for cash and continually spending beyond their means. The mother is played by Valerie Hobson, who starred as Estella a few years earlier in the extraordinary adaptation of David Lean's "Great Expectations." She is impatient with her husband's relatively low wages and wishes continually for more funds, seemingly not caring about the source of the money. Her young son (John Howard Davies, who later produced "Fawlty Towers") hears her pleas and soon is betting on horse racing with the help of their gardener, Bassett (played by the peerless Sir John Mills). Surprisingly, the boy seems to be rather lucky and begins to win, but complications soon arise.The "Rocking Horse Winner" is not particularly well-known, and it definitely deserves a larger audience. The film is highly enjoyable and unpredictable, with some unexpected eerie and sinister elements. The acting is generally good and somewhat larger than life, although Valerie Hobson portrays the mother in perhaps too unsympathetic a light. A highlight of the film is the demonic rocking horse that the boy receives for Christmas; the scenes with the boy riding it into a frenzy are frighteningly unforgettable, and perhaps more than a bit oedipal in nature. The DVD transfer is quite good, although no subtitles have been recorded - a shame considering the sometimes thick accents of some of the actors. Overall, the "Rocking Horse Winner" is a champion - an unusual, small British film that should be much better known.
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!"
A hidden british gem
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 05/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The rocking horse winner is a notable adaptation from a David H. Lawrence.
This movie is practically unknown by a large audience. If you watch it very carefully , you'll be rewarded, for several reasons.
The middle class family who slowly suffers a status fall; has a very intuitive and smart child capable of predicting the winner horse in the race horses. This child has a close friend (John Mills) who suddenly sees this gift and so he wins some money.
The close atmosphere in which this boy lives, makes that he reliefs in a wood horse , his mude friend and powerful device for his predictable visions.
Soon his greddy mother (the great actress and extremely beauty Valerie Hobson) will know about his special gift and the dramatis personae will run before the eyes of the viewer inmersed in a gothical hallucination with its undeniable tragic consequences.
This film, obviously was not the accostumed market product for that moment, spècially three years after that awful Second World War, that destroyed physical and spiritually many people. That's why the film didn't get his deserved place in those years. The audience wanted a better and hopeful future and the menu cinema should offer comedies, romantic films and light drama.
That's precisely what it gives major value to that movie out of its time. Anthony Pellisier conducted his most intimate film with astonishing results.
A true cult movie of the british cinema."
Brilliant 1949 D.H. Lawrence adaptation
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 09/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This 1949 British film adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence story of the same name is a great piece of filmmaking. The writer-director, Anthony Pelissier, has the tone and flavor of the story down pat and knows a thing or two about pacing and editing. The actor playing the lead character, Paul, a boy of about 10 or 11, is occasionally too stilted in his performance, but that's a minor quibble. Because this is primarily a thriller, what counts is momentum, and the subtlety employed in delivering the goods here is impressive.Paul gets a hobby horse for a Christmas present and with some encouragement from the family handyman/gardener, rides it with force and passion. Bassett, the handyman, also shows Paul his strong interest in horse racing. And so it happens that whenever Paul rides the hobby horse, something eerie happens; he "knows" the name of the winner at the next race.Paul's mother is so materialistic that she drives the family almost to the point of bankruptcy. The stakes are raised with expert timing here; the more she spends, the more somebody has to win at the races. But Paul's obsession with the riding the hobby horse has a dangerous side effect....In addition to the full length feature film, the DVD also includes a superb 1997 20 minute short film directed by Michael Almereyda (Nadja, Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke) based on the same story. Shot in Pixelvision, it is just as effective as the 1949 film with a radically different style and feeling. Yet the same sense of dread and creepiness is present. The DVD also includes, in the booklet, the entire short story by D.H. Lawrence, and a reading of the story (audio only) by actor John Shea--AND excerpts from a chamber opera based on the story as well. The reading is interesting; the chamber opera, the least interesting element. But the two films are great.Along with Seance on A Wet Afternoon, this film stands as one of the great works of mid-20th century British supernatural suspense in the cinema. Highly recommended."