Hand in Hand (1961)

Genres - Children's/Family, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Childhood Drama, Religious Drama  |   Run Time - 78 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

A sweet, gentle and truly lovely film, Hand in Hand may strike some viewers as perhaps overly sentimental. But for many Americans who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s and saw Hand numerous times on Saturday's "CBS Children's Film Festival," the movie is something of a cultural touchstone. Certainly, no one can fault Hand for the lessons it teaches of tolerance and respect for the differences of those around us and for its message that people from different backgrounds can live together as friends. Yes, some viewers may feel that it lays that message on a bit thick, but it's also hard to deny how powerful the work is. Director Philip Leacock sensitively handles the material prepared by writers Diana Morgan and Sidney Harmon, and does an absolutely splendid job of capturing the peculiar manner in which children interact with each other when adults are not around, and also of capturing how interaction with adult ideas can sometimes create dire inner conflicts within children. Leacock's handling of each child's visit to the other's place of worship is masterfully done, and the triumphant beginning of the children's flight to "Africa" conveys genuine childish glee. The climactic scene involving a near-tragic incident also packs quite an impact. Leacock pulls forth stunningly natural performances from his two young charges, Loretta Parry and Philip Needs, and the contribution they make to the film's success is significant. Despite its flaws, Hand is a charming and moving film.