The Oracle (film)

The Oracle (known as The Horse's Mouth in the United States[1] ) is a 1953 British comedy film directed by C.M. Pennington-Richards and starring Robert Beatty, Michael Medwin and Virginia McKenna.[2] The screenplay concerns a journalist who goes on holiday to Ireland where he encounters a fortune-teller.

The Oracle
Original trade ad by Ronald Searle
Directed byC.M. Pennington-Richards
Produced byColin Lesslie
Written byPatrick Campbell
Anthony Steven (additional dialogue)
Based onradio play To Tell You the Truth by Robert Barr
StarringRobert Beatty
Michael Medwin
Virginia McKenna.
Music byTemple Abady
CinematographyWolfgang Suschitzky
Edited byJohn Trumper
Distributed byAssociated British-Pathé (UK)
Release date
  • 1 June 1953 (1953-06-01) (London, UK)
Running time
85 mins
CountryUnited Kingdom


It was based on a radio play To Tell You the Truth by Robert Barr. It was shot at Southall Studios on a budget of £43,000.[3]


Timothy Blake (Michael Medwin), a British reporter holidaying or a remote island offshore of Ireland, hears a man's voice coming from the bottom of a well. The voice turns out to be a modern-day Oracle, or fortune teller, whose predictions prove uncannily accurate. Bob is determined to get a story out of this, but his editor is less enthusiastic and promptly fires him. The newfound publicity though, means the once-sleepy Irish village is now invaded with curiosity seekers, and those seeking the horse racing results.


Critical reception

Allmovie called it "A lesser comedy of the Ealing school (though not from the Ealing studios)";[4] the Radio Times called it a "piffling comedy in which whimsy is heaped on to make up for the absence of genuine humour";[5] but Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings thought more highly of the piece, whilst acknowledging "This is no classic, but it’s pleasant and has a little meat on its bones," and concluding the film was "Worth a look."[6]



  • Chibnall, Steve & McFarlane, Brian. The British 'B' Film. Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.
  • Harper, Sue & Porter, Vincent. British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference. Oxford University Press, 2007.
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