review for A Kid for Two Farthings on AllMovie

A Kid for Two Farthings (1955)
by Mike Cummings review

Director Carol Reed enjoyed a sterling reputation as a master of black-and-white suspense films such as Odd Man Out (1947) and The Third Man (1949). But could he succeed in color with a simple motion picture about a child who believes in unicorns? The film community asked that question when Reed debuted A Kid for Two Farthings in 1955. But there is real magic in the film -- the magic of childhood, when all things are possible and hope stokes the fires of imagination. The film is commendable for its gentle humor, gemutlich goodwill, and humanitarian theme. Moreover, it boasts a fine performance by Kassoff as the wise old Kandinsky, who helps lead Joe out of the fantasies of youth and into the reality that growing up imposes on him. In addition, it captures in Technicolor the dash and dawdle of life in Petticoat Lane, complete with its cast of street vendors, shopkeepers, and factory workers. But the film comes a cropper when it focuses too much attention on a wrestling match between a chap named Sam (Joe Robinson) (backed by the power of the unicorn) and a bruising sadist named Python Macklin (Primo Carnera). Neither the acting of the bone-crushers nor the match itself is uplifting, and the sequence does little to support the theme. The British accents of Joe and his mom are also a problem. Although they're supposed to be denizens of a neighborhood where the patois of the cockney holds sway, they speak like royals at teatime. Overall the film is a good one, but it certainly isn't in the class of Reed's earlier masterpieces.