In a lower-class London community of small shops, open-air vendors and flea-marketers, Joe, a small boy, lives with his mother, Joanne, who works in and rooms above the Kandinsky tailor ...
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In a lower-class London community of small shops, open-air vendors and flea-marketers, Joe, a small boy, lives with his mother, Joanne, who works in and rooms above the Kandinsky tailor shop. Joe is innocently and earnestly determined to help realize the wishes of his poor, hard-working neighbours. Hearing from Mr. Kandinsky the tale that a captured unicorn will grant any wish, Joe uses his accumulated pocket change to buy a kid with an emerging horn, believing it to be a unicorn. His subsequent efforts to make dreams come true exemplify the power of hope and will amidst hardship.Written by
Eric Wees <email@example.com>
At last, a chance to see this unique, rarely played film again. During a resent trip to the UK and a chance visit with friends to Covent Gardens market, I happened to find a DVD copy. While my copy is not one of the re-mastered Criterion discs, this HVE disc has very good visual quality (even if the audio may be a slight thin) The transfer from the original IB three strip Technicolor is fine indeed.
When I first saw this work I had no idea it was made by that great British master Carol Reed (odd Man Out '47 ~ The Third Man '49 etc) This is a film of believable humanity with a true sense of beauty (often amidst back alleys). This unusual story at first seems to be a fantasy but it later dawns on the viewer that all that happens, does so by natural coincidence.
It's almost told through the eyes of Joe, a young lad growing up in a part of London now long gone (pettycoat lane)...the real story teller though, is the local tailor superbly played by David Kossoff. He's the gentle teller of stories that create a sense of wonder in young Joe. This marvelous story, written by Wolf Mankowitz has so many nuisances, I can't help but feel both these characters were etched out of the writers recollections and experiences of growing up with such people in similar surroundings. It's also spiced with some very witty humor.
In another of Wolf's award winning short stories "The Bespoke Overcoat" he tells the story of a tailor (again played by David Kossoff) this also featured strong overtones of human responsibilities. Many of the characters in 'A Kid for two Farthings' are quite gruff and the theme involves some grotesque wrestling scenes but somehow the drama of these everyday lives all adds up to a very special experience.
In some ways the look and feel of 'Kid' is reminiscent of Reed's "Oliver" a decade later. The young lovers of this piece are convincingly played by Diana Dors (her best work though was probably in "Yield to the Night" in '56) and wrestler Joe Robinson - surprisingly good in his role. Robinson, having been injured in various rough and tumble bouts realized movies offered a safer way to make a living. Young Joe (Johnathon Ashmore) who never made another film, grew up to become a Physiology lecturer.
This film is given a terrific look by superb Director of Photography Ted Scaife whose other works included the classic 'Outcasts of the Islands' 51 and two surprise entries in the Tarzan series 'The Greatest Adventure' 59 and 'The Magnificent' 60. Everything he photographs is graced with eye popping Art Direction by multi Award winner Wilfred Shingleton ('Great Expectations' 48 ~ African Queen' 51) The above combination brought together by an astute director, with a sensitive script, assures that this film offers a veritable visual treat. The film was well received at Cannes film festival and deserved its nomination for a Palme D'or.
The melodic music by prolific jazz and symphonic composer Benjamin Frankel, also known for: 'Footsteps in the Fog' 55 and 'End of the Affair' 55, adds just the right finishing touch. It tells much about the modern media industry when these great Motion Pictures don't receive the recognition they deserve, while so much cartoonish fluff flourishes.
If you like entertainment with a flair for realistic details and warmth, then this could be for you. The final walk off with tailor Kandinsky cradling the 'unicorn' won't be forgotten easily. Recommended for discerning viewing or film study...AND, good quality DVD's are out there!....KenR.
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