The Rainbow Jacket
The Rainbow Jacket – 1954 | 99 mins | Sport | Colour
The Rainbow Jacket, a story about horse racing, reflected a passionate interest of its scriptwriter, Tibby Clark. Pleasing TechniColour photography by Otto Heller evoked the atmosphere of English stables and race courses in a convincing manner, but Basil Dearden‘s direction in his first film collaboration with Clarke since The Blue Lamp.
There was something tiresome about the stereotyped characters, particularly Robert Morley as a racing peer and Wilfrid Hyde-White and the bushy-moustachioed Michael Trubshawe as his fellow Jockey Club members. A conventional story with heavy-handed plot contrivances, the story begins as a former champion jockey Sam Lilley is barred from racing. Although he himself can no longer race, the jockey decides to live his dreams through Georgie Crain, who becomes his youthful protege. Sam teaches George all he knows, and also insists that he keep his morals high. But when Georgie’s mother encounters financial disaster, the lad and his mentor decide they have no choice but to throw a race for a gang of criminals. Unfortunately, this leads to even more ethical problems. The most disappointing sequences in the film were the races, in which static riders on mechanical mounts were combined with such ragged back projection that the illusion was destroyed. The riders included the celebrated jockey Sir Gordon Richards, who won the 1953 Derby, but even he looked unconvincing.
The Rainbow Jacket had a promising enough opening in the West End but, as sometimes happens with a film that can break house records in Leicester Square, it failed to stir any excitement on general release. Clark recalls that he had deduced that racing films often flopped because of the predictability of the races themselves, as it was always highly probable that the hero would win. For that reason he had two sympathetic characters ride in the main race, to give the audience a selection problem. But it seems that the subterfuge was, in itself, not enough.
ExtractŠ George Perry: Forever Ealing.