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Barry K. Barnes,
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Bobby Henrey's second and last film is a little gem!
While not in the same league as that in "The Fallen Idol", Bobby Henrey's performance in his second and last film, "The Wonder Kid", is just as charming and fascinating to watch. He is totally convincing and often very touching as Sebastian Giro, a ten years old French boy and child musical prodigy found in an orphanage by Mr Gorik (Elwyn Brook-Jones) who exploits the youngster's talent as a classical pianist and turns him into an international celebrity. He even tells everyone that the boy is only seven years old in order to make the boy wonder's talent seem all the more remarkable. But Gorik is also a crook who embezzles the takings so that he has almost all the money and Sebastian gets hardly any. Coupled with that, Gorik won't allow Sebastian to enjoy the simple pleasures of being a little boy, like having a pet dog or playing with other boys or even reading comic books, because, when Sebastian isn't performing, Gorik isn't making any money out of him. He works the over tired boy like a slave who must continually practise on the piano. Sebastian's elderly English governess, Miss Frisbie (Muriel Aked) is very concerned about the boy and confronts Gorik about his crooked activities. But he dismisses her from her post. Miss Frisbie then pays a gang of junior league crooks to "kidnap" Sebastian and take him to stay in a remote lodge in the Austrian Tyrol and Gorik won't get him back until he's paid over a huge ransom which is, in effect, all the money he has stolen from the boy. It is here, in this beautiful setting, that the boy finds a freedom and a happiness he has never known and just wants to stay there forever with those who have become his friends. But trouble is on the horizon for him...
This now unjustly forgotten little film is thoroughly entertaining and wonderful to watch and definitely deserves to be restored properly and released on DVD. Apart from the truly picturesque scenery, Bobby Henrey's performance as the cruelly exploited child prodigy who moves from misery to happiness is just wonderful. Highly recommended.
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