A Kid for Two Farthings (1956)

91 or 96 mins | Drama | April 1956

Director:

Carol Reed

Writer:

Wolf Mankowitz

Producer:

Carol Reed

Cinematographer:

Edward Scaife

Editor:

A. S. Bates

Production Designer:

Wilfrid Shingleton

Production Company:

London Film Productions, Ltd.
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HISTORY

A Kid for Two Farthings marked producer-director Carol Reed's first color feature. Some scenes were shot on location in the Jewish quarter and nearby Petticoat Lane in London. Most contemporary press items remarked on Diana Dors's resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, and within the film, "Mimi" calls Dors's character, "Sonia," "Marilyn." Joe Robinson, who played bodybuilder "Sam" in the picture, was the 1951 world heavyweight wrestling ... More Less

A Kid for Two Farthings marked producer-director Carol Reed's first color feature. Some scenes were shot on location in the Jewish quarter and nearby Petticoat Lane in London. Most contemporary press items remarked on Diana Dors's resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, and within the film, "Mimi" calls Dors's character, "Sonia," "Marilyn." Joe Robinson, who played bodybuilder "Sam" in the picture, was the 1951 world heavyweight wrestling champion. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Apr 1956.
---
Daily Variety
17 Sep 1956.
---
Film Daily
16 Apr 56
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Apr 56
p. 866.
New York Times
18 Apr 56
p. 25.
Variety
18 May 55
p. 8.
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1956
Premiere Information:
World premiere in London: 5 May 1955
New York opening: 17 April 1956
Production Date:
1954 at Shepperton Studios, London
Copyright Claimant:
London Film Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
25 April 1955
Copyright Number:
LP10232
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
1.75:1
Lenses/Prints
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
91 or 96
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the Jewish quarter of London, six-year-old Joe chases pigeons outside Avram Kandinsky’s tailor shop, where his mother Joanna and bodybuilder Sam Heppner work. Joe and Joanna both worry over the absence of Joanna’s husband, who left two years earlier for Africa with a promise to send for his wife and son after he established himself farming. Kandinsky watches over Joe and spins endless tales of magic for the boy, who, upon hearing from the tailor that a unicorn can grant wishes, determines to buy one with his savings of two farthings. Meanwhile, Sam poses for Mr. World competition photos at the local gym, run by wrestling manager Blackie Isaacs. He is accompanied by lovely Sonia, who works in Madam Rita’s clothing shop and has been engaged to Sam for four years, all the time enduring the taunts of her coworkers for accepting such a long engagement. Blackie is eager to convince Sam to wrestle for him, and gym assistant Mimi longs to have him around more often, but the young man refuses to endanger his body by entering the ring. In private, Blackie hints to Sonia that the money Sam could make by wrestling would pay for an engagement ring, and she resolves to urge him to compete. Soon after, Sam sees champion wrestler Python Macklin beat up his older sparring partner, Bully Bason, and enraged by the big man’s brutality, announces he will fight him. Joe runs to tell his mother, who is at that moment being counseled by Kandinsky to have confidence in her husband. Seeing his mother’s tears, and distraught over yet another dead pet, this time a baby chick, Joe wishes again for ... +


In the Jewish quarter of London, six-year-old Joe chases pigeons outside Avram Kandinsky’s tailor shop, where his mother Joanna and bodybuilder Sam Heppner work. Joe and Joanna both worry over the absence of Joanna’s husband, who left two years earlier for Africa with a promise to send for his wife and son after he established himself farming. Kandinsky watches over Joe and spins endless tales of magic for the boy, who, upon hearing from the tailor that a unicorn can grant wishes, determines to buy one with his savings of two farthings. Meanwhile, Sam poses for Mr. World competition photos at the local gym, run by wrestling manager Blackie Isaacs. He is accompanied by lovely Sonia, who works in Madam Rita’s clothing shop and has been engaged to Sam for four years, all the time enduring the taunts of her coworkers for accepting such a long engagement. Blackie is eager to convince Sam to wrestle for him, and gym assistant Mimi longs to have him around more often, but the young man refuses to endanger his body by entering the ring. In private, Blackie hints to Sonia that the money Sam could make by wrestling would pay for an engagement ring, and she resolves to urge him to compete. Soon after, Sam sees champion wrestler Python Macklin beat up his older sparring partner, Bully Bason, and enraged by the big man’s brutality, announces he will fight him. Joe runs to tell his mother, who is at that moment being counseled by Kandinsky to have confidence in her husband. Seeing his mother’s tears, and distraught over yet another dead pet, this time a baby chick, Joe wishes again for a unicorn, though Kandinsky warns him that none live in London. Joe searches the street vendors, and upon spying a baby goat with one mangled horn, is convinced that he has discovered a unicorn. After paying two farthings for the kid, Joe almost loses it when it runs away, but finally catches it among the stalls and and brings it to the shop. There, while Joe delineates his new pet’s magic qualities, Sam tells Blackie he no longer wants to fight, although Blackie promises to set up a fight against Bason that Sam is “guaranteed” to win. Kandinsky helps Joe prepare a bed for the kid, and when Joe asks him what his wish is, the older man expresses his desire for a steam press to iron the shop wares. Joe wishes that Sam would buy a ring for Sonia, and also for his mother to take him to the movies, and when she offers only to take him to the dentist, he accepts the wish as half fulfilled. Soon after, in response to Sonia’s requests, Sam buys a yellowed diamond ring and presents it to her at work. She and the other shop women swoon over the bauble, despite its flaws, but after Sam announces that he will not fight and so cannot afford a wedding yet, Sonia returns the ring in a fury. Sam offers to have a courthouse wedding, but the shop ladies decry such an “improper” wedding, and Sam is forced to promise to fight Python. Before facing Python, Sam battles Bason and wins, and Sonia, not realizing that the fight was fixed, assumes he will easily beat Python. One day, Madam Rita, the male shop owner, procures a new steam iron, and Joe proposes that Kandinsky buy the old one. Kandinsky is thrilled but, with only £12, is unable to make a deal with Madam Rita. Although dejected, Joe continues to believe in his “unicorn.” Back at the shop, Joanna, once again depressed, berates Kandinsky for his unflagging positivism, to which he responds that he once lost faith and does not want her to suffer the same fate. Later, Mimi, hoping to cause trouble, tells Python that Sonia is attracted to him, and that night, the huge wrestler awaits Sonia at the local club. She shows up to meet Sam and is forced to push Python away when he tries to grab her. When the kid escapes its pen soon after, Python decides to capture it to use as bait to get Sonia’s attention. After Sam leaves her for the evening, Python approaches, holding the kid out of reach so Sonia is forced to pursue him into an alley. There, Python attacks her, but she grabs the kid and runs to Kandinsky’s, where Sam defends her in a street fight. A policeman breaks up the fight, and as he leaves, Python vows to destroy Sam. While training nervously for the fight, Sam learns that he has won magazine Body Beautiful ’s Man of the Month competition. The night of the fight, the kid grows ill, but Joe begs it for the steam press, a victory for Sam and the return of his father. When he mentions to Kandinsky that Sam will win £25, exactly the cost of the old steam press, the tailor enthusiastically decides to urge Sonia to tell Sam to use the money to become Kandinsky’s partner rather than to buy a ring. Although Sonia is not easily convinced, having already spent the victory money on a new bedroom set, she eventually realizes the logic in securing Sam’s economic future. As the fight begins, Sam is losing badly to his larger rival. After Joe wishes fervently for Sam to win, however, the bodybuilder finds his second wind and is able to trounce Python in the final round. Kandinsky returns to the shop to find the kid dead, and surreptitiously replaces the body with a coin, which he then tells Joe is a magic talisman the unicorn left before returning to his kingdom. Joe’s sadness is forgotten as Sam and Sonia return to the shop, followed by the cheering neighbors and bearing the steam press, which Kandinsky touches with deep joy. Undaunted, the boy spends the subsequent victory celebration clutching a photograph he has found of a one-horned rhinoceros, which he is determined to find and buy. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.