|Directed by||Anthony Kimmins|
|Written by||Anthony Kimmins|
by Moore Raymond
|Produced by||Anthony Kimmins|
|Starring|| Ralph Richardson |
|Music by||William Alwyn|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Smiley is a 1957 CinemaScope produced comedy film. It tells the story of a young Australian boy who is determined to buy a bicycle for four pounds. Along the way he gets into many misadventures. It was based on the 1945 novel of the same name by Moore Raymond who also co-wrote the film with Anthony Kimmins. Their screenplay received a Best British Screenplay nomination at the BAFTA awards.
Smiley (Colin Petersen) is a mischievous boy who lives in the small country town of Murrumbilla (based on Augathella). His father is an alcoholic drover who is a poor provider for the family, his mother works as a laundress to make ends meet. Smiley is always getting into trouble with his best friend Joey (Bruce Archer). 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 pound) needed, despite getting involved in a number of pranks, including getting into trouble with the local law enforcement in the figure of Sergeant Flaxman (Chips Rafferty). Smiley unwittingly helps the local publican, Jim Rankin (John McCallum), 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 a boundary rider, Bill McVitty (Guy Doleman). 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 (Jocelyn Hernfield).
The film is based on the popular 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 Finnand film rights were bought immediately by Sir Alexander Korda. Korda sent Raymond to Australia in 1946 to find a possible child actors and locations over three months. However Korda said he could not find an appropriate director and shelved the project.
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 preproductionand announced he would make the film near Augathella for £100,000. 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. Plans to make the movie were delayed again.
Kimmins returned to Australia September 1955 to begin preproduction.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.
Filming started in late October, with the township of Murrumbilla being created on an estate at Camden Park and Gundy NSW, and finished eight weeks later. Post production work was done at Pagewood Studios.
The film was very popular and led to a sequel, Smiley Gets a Gun . It also spawned a hit single, 'A Little Boy Called Smiley', composed by Clyde Collins after the film was completed.
Colin Petersen moved to Britain and enjoyed a successful career as a child actor and musician, including being the drummer of The Bee Gees from 1967 to 1970.
The novel inspired Smiley The Musical with music by Clyde Collins, David Cocker, Mark Jones and Lance Strauss. The 2004 studio cast recording was performed by John Watson, Jason Barry-Smith, James King, Leisa Barry-Smith, Justine Anderson, Renae Bedford, Samantha Hardgrave, Gabriella Leibowitz, David Irvine, David Cocker, Darryl Weale and Simon Burvill-Holmes.
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