Kid for Two Farthings, A (1955)

Kid for Two Farthings, A (1955)

“It’s a unicorn!”

A young boy (Johnathan Ashmore) whose mother (Celia Johnson) works for a London tailor (David Kossoff) longs to find a unicorn that will grant his wishes — including his long-gone dad returning home from Africa; acquiring a new pressing machine for Kossoff; and helping a body-building sewist (Joe Robinson) in Kosoff’s shop earn enough money to marry his sexy sweetheart (Diana Dors). When Ashmore encounters a baby goat (a kid) with just one horn, he believes he’s found his unicorn, and gets right to work requesting wishes; meanwhile, Robinson reluctantly agrees to engage in paid matches with a bullying wrestler (Primo Carnera), who has his own eye on Dors.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Carol Reed Films
  • Pets
  • Wrestling

Carol Reed directed this quaint tale of a young boy whose belief in magic drives all the subplots in the film’s bustling narrative, which takes place within a colorful cityscape of eclectic characters:

Ashmore is charming as sweet Joe:

… though we don’t actually get to know him too well, given that his own needs and wishes are overshadowed by the dominant subplot between Robinson (who aspires obsessively towards body-building fame):

… and Dors, who oh-so-desperately wants to get a ring put on it:

These two are indeed gorgeous specimens, but unfortunately not all that bright or interesting. Meanwhile, Carnera’s oafish “Python” is a hiss-worthy but purely one-dimensional villain (below he’s trying to strangle Joe’s “unicorn”):

The most magical scenes are those simply showing the hustle and bustle of Joe’s child’s-eye view of the world:

… as his harried mother (Johnson) struggles to keep up with solo parenting and work:

… and Kossoff tries to bargain his way into purchasing his competitor’s old pressing machine:

The wrestling scenes are pure filler — though I suppose they fit with the film’s overall theme of showing everyday, working-class life and entertainment.

Fans of Carol Reed will want to check this one out simply to see the variety and creativity of his output, but it’s not must-see viewing for all film fanatics.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Edward Scaife’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look.


One thought on “Kid for Two Farthings, A (1955)

  1. First viewing. Skip it.

    One of Reed’s least-talked-about films, and it’s not hard to see why; it pushes its ‘charm’ to the breaking point.

    The script has poor Dors going on and on and on and on about wanting to get married. It has poor Ashmore going on and on and on and on about how “magical” his unicorn is. These one-note deliveries become tiresome. Ultimately the film just feels… long (and, as always, a 90-minute film that feels long is a problem).

    I’d’ve liked it if Lou Jacobi and Brenda De Banzie had been moved to more central positions; they both have presence but their roles are peripheral.

    My guess is this film was geared toward children but I’m not sure that kids would take to something this old-fashioned. If you like things twee, this may satisfy. Otherwise, don’t bother. (Apparently even Reed wasn’t satisfied with it.)

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