During the day Tony (Tony Hancock in his first big movie) is trapped in the drudgery of a nine-to-five office job at United International Transatlantic Consolidated Amalgamation Ltd.
But, hurrying home to his digs at night, he imagines himself an artist with great talent and vision, and he paints and sculpts to his heart’s content – although his landlady Mrs Crevatte (Irene Handl on top form) regards all of his efforts as a load of miscellaneous rubbish.
At work one day he tries to explain his creative urges to his bewildered and uncomprehending manager after his ledgers are found to be full of drawings.
Realising that he can never satisfy his passion for art in England, Tony quits his job and sets out for Paris, believing that only there – among the artists on the left bank – will his genius be recognised. In final defiance, he throws his bowler hat over the side of the cross-channel steamer.
In Paris, he becomes friendly with Paul (Paul Massie) an English artist, and agrees to share his studio and enthusiastically joins the beatnik group of the left bank.
He makes statements about art that are absolute nonsense, but so arresting that people listen to him, and accept him as a genius.
He even persuades his artist friends that his childlike daubs are a new form of art. At last. Paul. who cannot understand Anthony’s ‘explanations’ becomes disheartened. He leaves his paintings with Anthony to do with them as he will and goes back to London.
Anthony’s fame spreads and when art connoisseur, Sir Charles Brewer (George Sanders) arrives at the studio and sees some of Paul’s paintings he is overwhelmed by their brilliance. Brewer hails the discovery of a great artist.
Anthony tries to explain that the paintings are not his, but Brewer waves away his explanations full of ideas of a big exhibition, and finally, ignoring any pangs of conscience, Anthony falls in with his plans.
Hancock ruthlessly lampoons the pretentious artistic beatnik set and makes fun of his own inability to paint, drifting between lies and truth while carving out a reputation for himself among the Parisian avant-garde.
Watch out for a cameo by Oliver Reed as one of a group of artists arguing drunkenly about what constitutes art in a Parisien cafe.
Sir Charles Brewer
John Le Mesurier