THE ORACLE (1953)
(a.k.a. THE HORSE’S MOUTH)
Article #1531 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-24-2005
Posting Date: 10-21-2005
Directed by C. M. Pennington-Richards
Featuring Robert Beatty, Michael Medwin, Virginia McKenna
A journalist in fear of losing his job stumbles upon an oracle living in a well in a Scottish village.
There are several directions that this concept could have taken, but I like the way this one chose. It’s a comedy, but a quiet and thoughtful one rather than a wild one. It asks some interesting questions; in particular, it explores the idea of how people would react if they encountered a truly accurate oracle, and exactly what questions they would feel at ease to ask of it. Even the relatively harmless pursuit of asking it for horse race winners turns out to have some unpleasant side effects; in fact, the funniest scene in the movie shows the effect that these predictions have on the race itself. The thoughtful handling of these themes lends a good level of interest to this one. Most of the obvious comedy comes from the oracle himself, who is moody and unpredictable, sings in the bathtub, and makes derogatory comments during both the beginning and ending credits. This is no classic, but it’s pleasant and has a little meat on its bones. Worth a look.