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The Magic Garden (1951)

The Pennywhistle Blues (original title)
In a black township in South Africa, a stolen treasure chest passes from hand to hand until it is finally returned to its original owner.


Donald Swanson


James Ambrose Brown (story), C.M. Pennington-Richards (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Tommy Machaka Tommy Machaka ... The Thief
Harriet Qubeka Harriet Qubeka ... Mrs. Sakabona
David Mukwanazi David Mukwanazi ... Lucas Ranku (as David Mnkwanazi)
Dolly Rathebe Dolly Rathebe ... Lili Shabalala
Victor Cwayi Victor Cwayi ... John, Lili's beau (as Victor Cwai)
Grinsell Nongauza Grinsell Nongauza ... Mr. Shabalala (as Grinsell Nogauza)
Lucas Khosa Lucas Khosa ... Isaac Wela
Linda Madikisa Linda Madikisa ... Mrs. Wela
Jonathan Mzamo Jonathan Mzamo ... Priest
George Mabuza George Mabuza ... Mr. Letuli, the troubled parishioner
Joseph Motuba Joseph Motuba ... Nicolas, store clerk
Cornelius Moghare Cornelius Moghare ... Policeman
Samuel Alcock Samuel Alcock ... Policeman
Stanley Khali Stanley Khali ... Mrs. Sakabona's neighbor
Willard Cele Willard Cele ... Pennywhistle player


In a black township in South Africa, a stolen treasure chest passes from hand to hand until it is finally returned to its original owner.

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Comedy | Drama | Music

User Reviews

A mother finds money in the garden - and it changes life for a string of unfortunates.
22 March 2005 | by phyllisbrookssSee all my reviews

This must be an excellent movie -- after all, I've been thinking of it from time to time over 50 years! I saw it when it was first released in the 50's and it's stuck in my memory. A gentle, wistful tale of life in a black township, with the hero a small-time thief who plays a penny whistle. I looked for it on line when search engines were less efficient and databases smaller. Now I've found it. I'm eager to see it again.

The cast are non-professionals, but the pacing and visuals are certainly of high quality. High point: When the local police lift a garbage can lid and see the thief inside, one looks at the other and says, "Man, the housing shortage is worse than I thought." Dumb, but endearing. Especially since they carefully put the lid back on, and go on their way.

It sits in my memory beside the original Theodore Bikel "Little Kidnappers." A keeper.

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South Africa



Release Date:

5 February 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Magic Garden See more »

Filming Locations:

Johannesburg, South Africa

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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