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This movie was released by London Films, but it is a dinki-di Australian film. Based on a 1945 novel by Moore Raymond, it is set in the fictional town of Murrumbilla. We first see Smiley Greevins (Colin Petersen) sitting in a tree, pretending to be "Captain Cook discovering Australia".

He is a boy with a vivid imagination and a whole world to explore. One of the enduring images of the film is the young boy in checked shirt and shorts racing on bare feet up the grassy hills nearby. He shares a secret waterhole with his friend Joey (Bruce Archer) where they fish and discuss the strange doings of the adults in the small town. He is determined to buy himself a pushbike he has seen in a catalogue, but it costs four pounds, an impossible sum. But not impossible to a resourceful young lad, who picks up all sorts of jobs, helped by the adults around him.

He begins his savings with sixpence from the Reverend Lambert (Ralph Richardson) for reciting some lines of catechism. Later, the reverend offers him the job of bellringer for the Sunday services, at "one penny a tintinabulation".The local policeman (Chips Rafferty) gives him a shilling for cutting up wood and splitting kindling and another bob for polishing the horse's bridle and harness. His teacher, Miss Workman (Jocelyn Hernfield) sends Smiley to the Headmaster (Charles Tingwell) for a caning, but after that is done, he gives him a shilling.

However, he loses it all when he smashes a church window with a stone during a boys' mudfight. Devastated, he says he will do himself in. But the hotel proprietor, Mr. Rankin (John McCallum) sends him to the local Aboriginal camp on a secret mission for another shilling. Then the police sergeant finds him and Joey jobs at a local sheep station as rouse-abouts and they each earn three pounds. Joey buys a pony with his earnings, but Smiley does not have enough for a bike, because he lost five bob at two-up.

His prayer at night is, "Dear God, please help me to buy my bike before Dad comes home". His father (Reg Lye) is a drover of cattle and an alcoholic, not to be trusted with money. His mother (Margaret Christensen) is overworked and embittered by her lonely existence. When his father comes home, he gives Smiley the final pound note he needs to buy the bike. But while he is at the Aboriginal camp again, his father loses his own money at two-up, and he takes Smiley's four pounds from under his pillow and loses it as well.

Smiley, in his anger, bashes the bed with a cricket bat and accidentally hits his father in the head. Thinking he has killed him, he runs away into the bush. After a night lost in the bush, the town's menfolk form a search party to find him. But Smiley has met an English boundary-rider, and tells him he has a 1000 pounds reward on his head for murder. When Smiley is bitten by a snake, the boundary rider rushes him back to town.

The boy recovers and the townsfolk surprise him with a brand new bike. In the final scene of the film, he rides down the street, racing Joey on the pony.
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