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Kid for Two Farthings
     

A Kid for Two Farthings

Director: Carol Reed,

Cast: Carol Reed, Celia Johnson, Diana Dors, David Kossoff

 
Carol Reed's A Kid for Two Farthings (1955) never made it to laserdisc, but Home Vision Entertainment has restored this much-loved fantasy-drama to availability on DVD. Based on the novel by Wolf Mankowitz, the movie is a mixture of neo-realism and fantasy. Part location shot and part studio creation, the setting centered on Petticoat Lane in London's East End

Overview

Carol Reed's A Kid for Two Farthings (1955) never made it to laserdisc, but Home Vision Entertainment has restored this much-loved fantasy-drama to availability on DVD. Based on the novel by Wolf Mankowitz, the movie is a mixture of neo-realism and fantasy. Part location shot and part studio creation, the setting centered on Petticoat Lane in London's East End in England's optimistic, but unsettled, postwar period -- the color shooting makes the movie a bit unusual for its subject and setting, but it holds up extremely well. The color and detail here look better than they did in various '80s videotape incarnations, even if it doesn't quite rival the work done restoring such similar vintage films as Laurence Olivier's Richard III or David Lean's Summertime. Nor was the movie ever really intended to look quite as good as those other efforts from London Films. There are some visual treats here, to be sure, principally in the guise of British blonde bombshell Diana Dors (England's answer to Marilyn Monroe), and the cast also includes Celia Johnson and future James Bond villain Joe Robinson (Diamonds Are Forever). The latter, in a plot-point central to the story, plays a body-builder turned wrestler. The audio is very cleanly mastered, giving full play to Ben Frankel's highly expressive score and allowing the myriad working-class and immigrant dialects to come through sharply. The 22 chapter markers (exceptionally well chosen and well labeled) also show an unusual degree of care for a 90-minute movie. The disc itself is programmed very simply, with the menu opening automatically on start-up and the "play" option in the default position.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
Director Carol Reed enjoyed a sterling reputation as a master of black-and-white suspense films such as Odd Man Out (1947) and The Third Man (1949). But could he succeed in color with a simple motion picture about a child who believes in unicorns? The film community asked that question when Reed debuted A Kid for Two Farthings in 1955. But there is real magic in the film -- the magic of childhood, when all things are possible and hope stokes the fires of imagination. The film is commendable for its gentle humor, gemutlich goodwill, and humanitarian theme. Moreover, it boasts a fine performance by Kassoff as the wise old Kandinsky, who helps lead Joe out of the fantasies of youth and into the reality that growing up imposes on him. In addition, it captures in Technicolor the dash and dawdle of life in Petticoat Lane, complete with its cast of street vendors, shopkeepers, and factory workers. But the film comes a cropper when it focuses too much attention on a wrestling match between a chap named Sam (Joe Robinson) (backed by the power of the unicorn) and a bruising sadist named Python Macklin (Primo Carnera). Neither the acting of the bone-crushers nor the match itself is uplifting, and the sequence does little to support the theme. The British accents of Joe and his mom are also a problem. Although they're supposed to be denizens of a neighborhood where the patois of the cockney holds sway, they speak like royals at teatime. Overall the film is a good one, but it certainly isn't in the class of Reed's earlier masterpieces.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/21/2003
UPC:
0037429182420
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Homevision
Sound:
[monaural]
Time:
1:30:00

Special Features

[None specified]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Celia Johnson Joanne
Diana Dors Sonia
David Kossoff Kandinsky
Brenda de Banzie "Lady" Ruby
Joe Robinson Sam
Jonathan Ashmore Joe
Sydney Tafler Madame Rita
Primo Carnera Python Macklin
Lou Jacobi Blackie Isaacs
Daphne Anderson Dora
Danny Green Bason
Vera Day Mimi
Sidney James Ice Berg
Irene Handl Mrs. Abramowitz
Alfie Bass Alf, the Bird Man
Eddie Byrne Sylvester, Photographer
Barbara Archer Actor
Sam Kydd Actor
Raymond Rollett Breakaway China Stallholder
James Lomas Sandwich Board Man
Arthur Skinner Actor
Judith Nelmes Alf's Customer
Mollie Palmer Actor
Barbara Denny Actor
Charles Saynor Actor
Bart Allison Auctioneer
Harry Baird Jamaica
Bruce Beeby Policeman
Harold Berens Oliver
Frank Blake M.C.
Madge Brindley Mrs. Quinn
Harold Goodwin Chick man
Nora Gordon Customer
Lily Kann Mrs. Kramm
Arthur Lovegrove Postman
Eddie Malin Dog man
Norman Mitchell Stallholder
Marigold Russell 3rd Customer
Derek Sydney Fortune teller
Peter Taylor Dog man
Joseph Tomelty Vagrant

Technical Credits
Carol Reed Director,Producer
Bert Bates Editor
A.S. Bates Editor
Anna Duse Costumes/Costume Designer
Benjamin Frankel Score Composer
Wolf Mankowitz Screenwriter
Edward Scaife Cinematographer
Wilfred Shingleton Art Director

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Logos/Credits [2:13]
2. Body Beautiful [4:07]
3. Mr. Kandinsky [4:11]
4. If You're Getting Married [5:50]
5. Fix Me a Fight [3:01]
6. Always Beautiful [3:45]
7. To Be a Unicorn [4:30]
8. Shopping [5:37]
9. Mischief [3:21]
10. Gonna Fight the Python [4:04]
11. Fifty Percent Wish [5:50]
12. Held Over [3:38]
13. C'mon Sam [3:26]
14. Last Refusal [5:17]
15. A Great Thinker [4:57]
16. We're So Lucky [5:24]
17. Kidnapped [3:53]
18. Pre-Fight [4:11]
19. Fight Night [4:04]
20. In Your Hands [2:27]
21. Triumph and Tragedy [3:10]
22. Gone to Africa [3:03]

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