Smiley (1956 film)

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Directed by Anthony Kimmins
Written byAnthony Kimmins
Moore Raymond
Based onSmiley
1945 novel
by Moore Raymond [1]
Produced byAnthony Kimmins
Starring Ralph Richardson
Chips Rafferty
Colin Petersen
Cinematography Edward Scaife
Music by William Alwyn
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • 28 June 1956 (1956-06-28)(London)
  • 12 June 1957 (1957-06-12)(United States)
Running time
97 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget£250,000 [2] [3]

Smiley is a 1956 British-American comedy film directed by Anthony Kimmins and starring Colin Petersen. [4] It was based on the 1945 novel of the same name by Moore Raymond who co-wrote the film with Kimmins. It tells the story of a young Australian boy who is determined to buy a bicycle for four pounds, and along the way he gets into many misadventures.



Smiley Greevins is a mischievous boy who lives in the small country town of Murrumbilla (based on Augathella [5] [6] ). His father is an alcoholic drover who is a poor provider for the family, and his mother works as a laundress. Smiley is always getting into trouble with his best friend Joey. He decides to try to save up enough money to buy a coveted bicycle.

Smiley takes on various odd jobs, showing enterprise, hard work, and persistence in slowly accumulating the considerable sum (four pounds) needed, despite getting involved in a number of pranks, including getting into trouble with the local law enforcement in the figure of Sergeant Flaxman. Smiley unwittingly helps the local publican, Jim Rankin, sell opium to aborigines who live in a camp near the town.

Smiley's father steals his savings and loses it playing two-up. Smiley accidentally knocks him out and runs away to the bush, where he is bitten by a snake. His life is saved by boundary rider Bill McVitty. Rankin is arrested and the townspeople chip in to buy Smiley a bike.

A romantic subplot involves Rankin and Sergeant Flaxman vying for the affections of Miss Workman the new local schoolmistress.



The film is based on the 1945 novel Smiley by Moore Raymond, who was born in Queensland but worked as a journalist in Britain. The book was hailed as an Australian Huckleberry Finn [7] and film rights were bought immediately by Sir Alexander Korda. [8] Korda sent Raymond to Australia in 1946 to find possible child actors and locations. [9] [10] However Korda said he could not find an appropriate director and shelved the project. [11]

Korda eventually assigned the project to Anthony Kimmins, who had served in Australia in World War II. Kimmins arrived in Australia in March 1950 to begin preproduction [12] and announced he would make the film near Augathella for £100,000. [5] However, after actually inspecting the site he doubted it would be useful and he was unable to find a lead actor he was happy with. [13] Plans to make the movie were delayed again.

Kimmins returned to Australia September 1955 to begin preproduction. [14] After interviewing over 2,000 boys, he cast Colin Peterson as Smiley and Bruce Archer as Joey. Part of the budget was provided by 20th Century Fox, who had money frozen in Australia due to currency restrictions. Apart from Ralph Richardson, the entire cast was Australian. [2]

Filming started in late October, with the township of Murrumbilla being created on an estate at Camden Park, Gundy NSW and finished eight weeks later. Post production work was done at Pagewood Studios in Sydney. [2] It was filmed in CinemaScope.


The film was followed by a sequel, Smiley Gets a Gun (1958). It also spawned a hit single composed by Clyde Collins, "A Little Boy Called Smiley". [15]


The novel inspired Smiley The Musical with music by Clyde Collins, David Cocker, Mark Jones and Lance Strauss. [16]


The screenplay received a Best British Screenplay nomination at the 1957 BAFTA awards. [17]

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  1. Smiley. Sylvan Press. 1945.
  2. 1 2 3 Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 221.
  3. "Smiley To Be Filmed". The Central Queensland Herald. Rockhampton, Qld. 18 August 1955. p. 4. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "Smiley". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  5. 1 2 "£100,000 film planned". The Courier-Mail . Brisbane. 21 March 1950. p. 3. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "Augathella to paint 'Smiley' tribute mural". Australia: ABC News . Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  7. "Australian Huck Finn". The Argus . Melbourne. 15 June 1946. p. 16. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "Cinema: Garden Notes". The Mercury . Hobart, Tasmania. 30 November 1946. p. 3 Supplement: The Mercury Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "Author Arrives To Select Players For "Smiley" Film". The Sydney Morning Herald . 11 November 1946. p. 1. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "Search for boy actor". The Courier-Mail . Brisbane. 16 March 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "Australian Film Industry: Big Plans Made". The Sydney Morning Herald . 9 April 1947. p. 5. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "Seeks 'scallywag with angel face'". The Argus . Melbourne. 15 March 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "Doubt on Western film site". The Courier-Mail . Brisbane. 23 March 1950. p. 5. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  14. "He wants tough Aussie boy with smiling face". The Argus . Melbourne. 19 August 1955. p. 3. Retrieved 26 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  15. "A Little Boy Called Smiley". Discogs. Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  16. "Smiley : The Musical | AustLit: Discover Australian Stories".
  17. "Film in 1957 | BAFTA Awards".