Half a Sixpence [1967]

When orphaned shop clerk Arthur Kipps inherits a fortune, his future seems assured--but money doesn't buy happiness, as the gawky lad learns when he mixes with the swells. The splashy musical Half a Sixpence was adapted from H.G. Wells's novel, Kipps, and it saw considerable success as a stage vehicle for the exuberant Tommy Steele. The film version gets caught in that mid-1960s mode of the lumbering super-production (the kind that helped kill the movie musical). Lavishly mounted by old pro director George Sidney, and boasting some echt-sixties photography by the great Geoffrey Unsworth, Half a Sixpence offers its share of eye candy. The blowhard presence of Cyril Ritchard and the spectacular dancing of Grover Dale help. Then there's Tommy Steele, whose stage-scaled performance is all teeth and hair; he attacks the razzmatazz numbers with ferocity--maybe more ferocity than charm. Songs by David Heneker. --Robert Horton

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