UK / 1955
Director: Carol Reed
Writer: Wolf Mankowitz, based on his novel
Cast: Celia Johnson, Diana Dors, David Kossoff, Sidney James
Adapted from Wolf Mankowitz’s novel, A Kid for Two Farthings was shot by Carol Reed after she made The Man Between, illustrating the director’s diverse talents despite being better known for thrillers and socially conscious films. A Kid for Two Farthings is a poetic fable with Jewish overtones and was Reed’s first colour production.
This charming tale of East End life is set in Petticoat Lane and focuses on young Joe (Jonathan Ashmore), who lives with his mother Joanna (Celia Johnson) above a tailor shop owned by Kandinsky (David Kossoff). The tailor explains to Joe, through the legend of the unicorn, that everyone’s dreams and wishes can come true. The young boy determines to help realise all the wishes of his hard-working neighbours.
The boy uses his pocket money to buy what he thinks is a unicorn (actually a goat with a single horn) and, as in all the best fairytales, his wishes do eventually come true, the boy’s hopes and dreams overcoming the hardship of his working class neighbourhood. With fine performances from the top-notch British cast including Diana Dors and Sid James.