A Kid for Two Farthings (film)

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A Kid For Two Farthings
DVD Cover Art
Directed by Carol Reed
Produced by Carol Reed
Written by Wolf Mankowitz
Starring Celia Johnson
Diana Dors
David Kossoff
Joe Robinson
Music by Benjamin Frankel
Cinematography Edward Scaife
Edited by Bert Bates
Distributed by London Films
Release dates
15 August 1955
Running time
96 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

A Kid For Two Farthings is a 1955 film, directed by Carol Reed. The screenplay was adapted by Wolf Mankowitz from his own novel of the same name. The film presumably gets its name from an Aramaic song traditionally sung after the Passover Seder, Chad Gadya ("A Lone Kid"), in which a kid bought for two small coins, "zuzim" in the original, stands in for the Children of Israel.


In the busy wholesale-retail world of London's East End everyone, it seems, has unattainable dreams. Then a small boy - Joe - buys a unicorn, in fact a sickly little goat, with just one twisted horn in the middle of its forehead. This, he has been led to believe by a local tailor, Kandinsky, will bring everyone good fortune.

The film has a haunting last image, of Kandinsky carrying the tiny body of the "unicorn" to the graveyard, whilst passing in the opposite direction is a Torah-reading Rabbi pushing a horn gramophone, a character that appears in the background several times during the film.



A Kid for Two Farthings was nominated for a Golden Palm at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

Critically, this was one of Carol Reed's least successful films, however the rich ensemble cast, and the interweaving of harsh reality and fantasy remain a potent mix. The character of Kandinsky in particular is seen to embody the plight of surviving European Jews ten years after the Second World War. His mythologizing about a race of unicorns with magic powers that were destroyed everywhere but may still exist in some far-off country, can be seen as analogous to the Holocaust.

The film was the 9th most popular movie at the British box office in 1955.[2]


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: A Kid for Two Farthings". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  2. ^ 'Dirk Bogarde favourite film actor', The Irish Times (1921-Current File) [Dublin, Ireland] 29 Dec 1955: 9.

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