The Rocking Horse Winner (1950)

Article #888 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-20-2003
Posting Date: 1-17-2004
Directed by Anthony Pelissier
Featuring Valerie Hobson, John Howard Davies, John Mills

A boy discovers that he can pick the winners of horse races while riding a rocking horse.

I was startled to see that this movie was based on a story by D.H. Lawrence, but that was because I hadn’t correctly taken the measure of this movie before I watched it. To me, the concept sounded like one of those cute whimsical ideas that I’d expect to find in a Disney ‘shopping cart’ movie, where the kid and the rocking horse are kidnapped by comic relief crooks and must be rescued by his befuddled uncle Fred MacMurray. Well, this movie is not only NOT whimsical, it doesn’t even flirt with whimsicality; in fact, the fantasy of the concept verges far closer to horror than anything else, with the demonic face of the rocking horse and the chilling whispers of the house pleading for more money. The end result is unforgettable; this is a powerful and sad movie about a child who tries to take on the responsibilities that his parents have failed to meet, and the price is not cheap. In a sense, the movie hovers somewhere between THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE and THE INNOCENTS, while really being like neither one. Highly recommended.


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