12/22/2014  
Dallas: The Complete Third And Final Season on DVD Jan 13Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Season 2 on DVD Dec 16Lord Of Illusions (Collector's Edition) 2-Disc Blu-ray Director's Cut Dec 16Kelly & Cal on DVD Dec 30The Facts Of Life: The Complete Series on DVD Jan 13Keep on Keepin' On on DVD Jan 13Stonehearst Asylum on DVD & Blu-ray Dec 16

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Dallas: The Complete Third And Final Season on DVD Jan ...
Stephen Colbert sings with every celebrity you can thin...
The Colbert Report Is Dead. Long Live Stephen Colbert!...
Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Season 2...
Lord Of Illusions (Collector's Edition) 2-Disc Blu-ray ...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
JACK REACHER...
LIZ & DICK...
CHINA BEACH: THE COMPLETE SERIES...

CA Chuck Aliaga

THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
THE LADY (BLU-RAY)...
SWAMP THING (BLU-RAY)...
AROUSED...
THE SWEENEY (BLU-RAY)...

MZ Mark Zimmer

Take Part in a Film Restoration...
STORAGE WARS: SEASON ONE...
LOST KEATON...
BLACK NARCISSUS (BLU-RAY)...
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE MOTION PICTURE TRILOGY (BLU-...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...
BASEBALL'S GREATEST GAMES: 1986 WORLD SERIES GAME 6...

JS Jesse Shanks

KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...
NORMAN MAILER: THE AMERICAN...
I Don't Know How She Does It on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 3...
The Liam Neeson Film Collection on DVD Nov 1...
Box Office Charts From Box Office Mojo Nov 12-14...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...
THE TROUBLE WITH TOLSTOY...
HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TWO HOURS...
ANATOMY OF A MURDER...
BASIL DEARDEN'S LONDON UNDERGROUND (ECLIPSE SERIES 25)...

JC Joel Cunningham

WINGS OF DESIRE...
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS...
MONSOON WEDDING...
PIERROT LE FOU...
SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...
STEPFATHER II...

DH Dan Heaton

NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RR Rich Rosell

THE BUCKET LIST...
CRUDE IMPACT...
THE MAGIC OF FLIGHT (BLU-RAY)...
JOURNEY INTO AMAZING CAVES (BLU-RAY)...
A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Home Vision Entertainment presents
A Kid for Two Farthings (1955)

"Life is all dreams, Joe. Dreams and work. And that's all it is, so what can you do?"
- Mr. Kandinsky (David Kossoff)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: January 21, 2004

Stars: Jonathan Ashmore, David Kossoff, Joe Robinson, Diana Dors
Other Stars: Celia Johnson, Primo Carnera, Brenda De Banzie
Director: Carol Reed

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (wrestling/boxing violence)
Run Time: 01h:30m:12s
Release Date: October 21, 2003
UPC: 037429182420
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BB-C- D-

DVD Review

Carol Reed is one of England's most honored and celebrated directors—he was even the first to be knighted, an honor he received some 42 years before his contemporary, David Lean—but in the last five decades, many of his best works have been largely forgotten by the general public, and his name doesn't incite the same kind of passion from film nuts as the other big names of the era, including Lean, Orson Welles, Lawrence Olivier, and Billy Wilder. If it weren't for the wonderful Criterion release of The Third Man (featuring Welles' most brilliant moment on film—a speech about the invention of the cuckoo clock), many DVD fans would likely think of him as merely the director of the bloated 1968 best picture winner, Oliver!, a disservice to be sure (though Reed did pick up an Oscar for his work).

Thankfully, Criterion's sister company, Home Vision, is around to release "second tier" titles that might otherwise undeservedly gather dust on studio shelves. Reed's 1955 production, A Kid for Two Farthings, certainly isn't one of his best, but it's a unique work of magical realism that film buffs will probably want to see.

Joe (Jonathan Ashmore) is a working-class young boy living in London's East End in the 1950s. He's an unusually optimistic child, considering the rather bleak nature of his surroundings—his mother (Brief Encounter's Celia Johnson) works for Mr. Kandinsky (Jewish character actor David Kossoff), who is too poor to pay her much, or afford to purchase a steam press (he frequently kvetches about using an old-fashioned iron). Joe doesn't have any friends his own age, but idolizes local strong man, Sam (Joe Robinson), who dreams of one day winning the Mr. Universe contest so he can finally make some money and purchase a proper engagement ring for his fiancée Sonia (Diana Dors, known as the "British Marilyn Monroe"). He also has very bad luck with pets (his pet chickens keep dying) and patriarchal figures (his dad is off exploring Africa, as in, "Honey, I'm going to Africa to pick up some milk. I'll be right back!").

Joe would like nothing better than to help all his friends get what they want in life—a ring for Sonia, a pants press for Mr. Kandinsky, and for himself and his mother, his father's return—so when Mr. Kandinsky tells him a story about magical unicorns who grant wishes, he completely believes it and decides he'll use his pocket money to buy a unicorn. He happens to run into a swindler trying to pawn off a stunted, sickly, one-horned kid. Joe buys it and, just like that, all his wishes seem to come true, or at least, they come true from his perspective. Pressured by Sonia, Sam the bodybuilder abandons his career aspirations (even after he makes the cover of a weight-lifting magazine) to make some fast money boxing. He manages to pick a fight with the villainous Python Macklin (Primo Carnera) that he'll surely lose, but he makes enough to buy a cheap £4 ring. The prosperous shopkeeper down the street gets a new press and offers his old one to Mr. Kandinsky. Joe is convinced that his father's return isn't long in coming.

While Joe's childlike faith in wishes, and the fact that, in a way, his dreams actually do come true thanks to the presence of the unicorn (and a bit of melodrama at the end) make A Kid for Two Farthings feel a bit like a fairy tale, it is more or less grounded in the realism accorded to the rather bleak setting. There are always perfectly rational explanations for the granted wishes, and the audience is always aware of them, even if Joe isn't. Reed leaches the story of most any fantastical elements, filming in real, bustling, and often poverty-stricken London markets and on dingy, claustrophobic sets. A few scenes set at night have the shadowy, oppressive noir feel of The Third Man, as when Sonia leaves a rowdy bar at night and Python follows he home.

The cast is typically strong, full of skilled British character actors, save the young Jonathan Ashmore, who is suitably childlike and not a bit self-conscious in front of the camera (though he gets a bit shrill at times, prattling on about his "u-nicoooorn!"). The script is straightforward and fairly original, with some decent dialogue and nice character moments (particularly for Mr. Kandinsky, who keeps having to find nice ways to tell Joe his pets are dead). Reed, who also produced, keeps a handle on the tone, and consistently avoids being cutesy or maudlin. A Kid for Two Farthings is a perfectly decent family film: dated, but still worthwhile.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Home Vision presents A Kid for Two Farthings in a dated but decent 1.33:1 transfer (the original aspect ratio). The color palette is a muted; the British production doesn't have the lurid tones of Hollywood's Technicolor heyday. But it's nevertheless fairly pleasing, though the black level isn't what it could be, and dark scenes regularly appear a bit muddy. The source print is in only fair shape, and shows frequent but excusable scratches and lines. There's quite a bit of grain, but it seems appropriate for a film of this vintage.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The original English mono track falls a bit short, and the problem is worsened by the lack of captions or subtitles. The sound is muffled throughout, and speech is sometimes very difficult to make out—the accented characters are almost impossible to understand unless you turn the volume way up. That, of course, introduces another problem. The airy mix sounds shrill and unsupported (particularly the high voice of the child star), and the score tinny and weak. You don't expect top quality from an obscure release, but I found this audio experience annoying and off-putting—not being able to understand all the dialogue does tend to pull you out of a film.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Well, aside from a generous 22 chapter stops, there are no extras (unless you count an informative, somewhat overblown critical essay on the insert). Subtitles would have been very helpful, but alas, none are included.

I must praise Home Vision's designers for their delightfully kitsch-y use of Photoshop to create the DVD cover art. I can't decide which element I like best: the tiny, upside-down goat on the spine, or the oddly cropped, humorously positioned image of Diana Dors on the back.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Carol Reed's A Kid for Two Farthings is an admittedly minor entry in the director's résumé, but it's an engaging curiosity. The whimsical, fairy tale story contrasts with the undercurrent of poverty plaguing postwar London, making little Joe's optimism all the more innocent and precious. Home Vision's DVD presentation is bare-bones, but they have done a fine job with a title that would likely otherwise never come to DVD at all.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

drama, television, stephen colbert, final show, kareem abdul-jabar, jj abrams, alan alda, christiane amanpour, many more, the colbert report, last show, santa, unicorn, abraham lincoln, alex trebek, documentary, horror, comedy channel, stephen t. colbert, colbert report, movie, the interview, united states, north korea, soney, hector monsegur, china, sony pictures entertainment, cyber attack, kim jong-un, seth rogen, james franco, the hobbit: the baattle of the five armies, peter jackson, j.r.r. tolkien marathon, comedy, barbara walters, 10 most fascinating people of 2014, amal clooney, taylor swift, george clooney, thriller, chris rock, top five, the late show, david letterman, movies, golden globes 2015, reality, romantic comedy, western, music, 57th grammy awards, iggy azalea, beck, pharrell williams, miranda lambert, sia, cooking, spectre, daniel craig, sam mendes, christoph waltz, lea seydoux, naomie harris, ben whishaw, ralph fiennes, celebrity, loni anderson, burt reynolds, pearl earrings, necklace, nude portrait, lady gaga, howard sten, south by southwest, millie brown, swine, mark geragos, kesha, lukasz sebastian gottwald

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

earth mosaics

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

DVD Marketplace

Snappy Planet

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store