A Kid for Two Farthings

Overview

In this sentimental comedy, Carol Reed tries for a bit of neo-realist whimsy that takes place in the London slums of Petticoat Lane. The film centers upon Joe Jonathan Ashmore, a six-year-old London East-ender who believes strongly in the magical power of unicorns. Joe and his lonely mother Joanna Celia Johnson live with wily, philosophical tailor Kandinsky David Kossoff, who convinces Joe that if he could only come upon the legendary unicorn, he could grant all the wishes of his poor neighbors. Taking Kandinsky ...
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Overview

In this sentimental comedy, Carol Reed tries for a bit of neo-realist whimsy that takes place in the London slums of Petticoat Lane. The film centers upon Joe Jonathan Ashmore, a six-year-old London East-ender who believes strongly in the magical power of unicorns. Joe and his lonely mother Joanna Celia Johnson live with wily, philosophical tailor Kandinsky David Kossoff, who convinces Joe that if he could only come upon the legendary unicorn, he could grant all the wishes of his poor neighbors. Taking Kandinsky at his word, Joe searches the slums for a unicorn. Then one morning, he finds one. Only thing is, it is not a unicorn but a baby goat with a growth sticking out of his forehead. Nevertheless, Joe is convinced that the goat is a unicorn. He gives an elderly homeless man all of his savings for the kid and triumphantly takes it home. Hoping to use the kid to grant all his friends' wishes, he hopes to grant the wishes of Kandinsky, who wants a steam-pressing table, and Sonia Diana Dors, an attractive blonde who wants to marry Sam Joe Robinson, a handsome wrestler. And finally, he wishes for his father to return home to his lonely mother.
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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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/13/2000
  • UPC: 037429049235
  • Original Release: 1955
  • Source: Homevision
  • Format: VHS

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
Sam Kydd
Raymond Rollett Breakaway China Stallholder
James Lomas Sandwich Board Man
Arthur Skinner
Judith Nelmes Alf's Customer
Mollie Palmer
Barbara Denny
Charles Saynor
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
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