DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
A KID FOR TWO FARTHINGS (director: Carol Reed; screenwriter: Wolf Mankowitz/from a novel by Wolf Mankowitz; cinematographer: Edward Scaife; editor: A. S. Bates; music: Benjamin Frankel; cast: Celia Johnson (Joanna), Diana Dors (Sonia), David Kossoff (Avram Kandinsky), Joe Robinson (Sam), Jonathan Ashmore (Joe), Primo Carnera (Python), Lou Jacobi (Blackie Isaacs), Sydney Tafler ("Madam" Rita), Brenda de Banzie ("Lady Ruby"); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Carol Reed; Janus Films; 1955-UK)

 
"Delightful fantasy story."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Carol Reed ("Odd Man Out"/"The Fallen Idol"/"The Third Man") directs this delightful fantasy story, a whimsical film overloaded with bearable sentimentality and charm. This was Reed's first film in Technicolor, which he effectively uses. Reed's ability to work with children, is never more in evidence than here. It's based on the novel by Wolf Mankowitz, who also provides the screenplay.

Joe (Jonathan Ashmore) is the six-year-old London East-ender (the Jewish quarters), who lives with his lonely mother, Joanna (Celia Johnson), in the tailor shop of the kind-hearted, philosophical, impoverished, Jewish tailor Avrom Kandinsky (David Kossoff). Joanna only pines for her hubby, who left two years ago trying to make a better life for the family by checking out the farming prospects in South Africa. Hubby seems like he wants out of the marriage, as he offers no hope for a reunion. The tailor, who catches Joe's imagination by cheering him up with inspiring tales tells him that a unicorn is a magical animal that once existed before people got too greedy and if one could be found it can grant wishes. Influenced by the tailor's stories, Joe buys with his life savings from one of the Petticoat Lane vendors a sickly one-horned goat he mistakenly thinks is a miraculous unicorn.

The tailor only pines for a steam press. The tailor's muscle-bound body-builder under-presser assistant Sam (Joe Robinson) pines to win the Mr. World title in bodybuilding and to make enough money to buy his buxom blonde seamstress girlfriend of four years, Sonia (Diana Dors), an engagement ring. Sonia only pines to marry her hunky boyfriend. While Joe pines for a unicorn to grant everyone their wishes.

Meanwhile to get enough dough for the diamond ring Sam gets pushed into a pro wrestling match with the intimidating bully giant Python (Primo Carnera), who threatens to break the cream-puff in half. The question becomes will Joe's goat turn out to be a unicorn and grant his wishes for all the folks he loves.

Though too slight to be a classic and too unconvincing to be a work of art, it's still an enjoyable and well-crafted fluff fable that plays to the child in you.

REVIEWED ON 5/23/2010       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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