D.H. Lawrence's tragic fable The Rocking Horse Winner is faithfully transferred to the screen in this 1950 gem. John Howard Davies, the young star of Oliver Twist (and the future chief film editor at the BBC) plays sensitive lad Paul Grahame, whose selfish, grasping mother (Valerie Hobson) warps his values. When his mom once more whines over her lack of wealth, the boy retreats to his new Christmas present, a hobby horse. Having been taught to ride like a real jockey by kindly handyman Bassett (John Mills), Paul furiously bobs up and down on his horse, hoping to drive his mother's words out of his brain. Instead, Paul suddenly acquires the ability to pick the names of winning race horses. Capitalizing on her son's "gift," Paul's mother becomes fabulously wealthy, only to spend the money as quickly as it comes in. Thinking only of his mother's happiness, Paul continues to ride his magical horse, which results in more lucrative racetrack predictions. Before his mother can come to her senses, the boy takes one "ride" too many, dropping dead from the exhaustion. Though essentially a dark fantasy, The Rocking Horse Winner is rendered with utter credibility by writer/director Anthony Pelissier.
by Hal Erickson synopsis