Rollicking, bittersweet portrayal of an indigent artist in postwar London. Alec Guinness is Gulley Jimson, curmudgeon and would-be lothario who curses his vocation with the same passion he pours into his paintings. The film follows Guinness on a madcap quest to regain some lost artwork, leading to antics worthy of the Marx Brothers. He is joined in his adventures by Kay Walsh as Dee Coker, Gulley's caustic barkeep gadfly who helps him look for the artwork in order to collect a debt. Mike Morgan is Nosey, the starstruck youth who follows Gulley everywhere to learn his painting secrets. Ernest Thesinger (Dr. Pretorius in Bride of Frankenstein) is the long-time benefactor of Gulley who is harassed by crank phone calls from the artist. Renee Houston steals the movie right out from under Guinness' nose in the role of Sara Monday, Gulley's ex-wife who still is sweet on him.
Screenplay adapted by Guinness from a book by Joyce Cary, directed by Ronald Neame.
"Why doesn't it fit...like it does in the mind?"
Hodges: Are you sure that Sir and Lady Beeder are expecting you?
Gulley Jimson: Expecting me? They're down on their knees praying for me.