Based on the 1955 novel An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden, Innocent Sinners introduced a little wisp of Cockneydom called Lovejoy (beautifully played by June Archer) who makes a little secret garden in the grounds of a bomb-damaged church somewhere around Pimlico.
She is helped by Tip (Christopher Hey) and Sparkey (Brian Hammond) – some rough but not too rough boys – who steal soil from a rich garden in a local square and end up in the police station. Lovejoy herself steals money from the church though she takes it back in the end.
In the background are spinster sisters Olivia (Flora Robson) and Angela Chesney (Catherine Lacey) – two rich and far-off spectators at these goings-on. Olivia is sympathetic and understanding, while Angela is hard and unsympathetic.
The little heroine, whose touring actress mother (Vanda Godsell) is worthless and has deserted her, finds a surrogate father in an ambitious but poverty-crippled local restaurateur named Vincent (hauntingly well-played by David Kossoff).
Lovejoy eventually learns that her garden must be destroyed (a developer is rebuilding the church) and saves her prized rose to give to Olivia.
Sadly, the old lady dies suddenly. Olivia, however, has left an unsigned will bequeathing Vincent money to open a West End restaurant, provided he and his wife (Barbara Mullen) keep Lovejoy.
At first, Angela will not agree to the terms, but the rose eventually softens her heart, and everybody is happy.
The film is extraordinarily sensitive and worthwhile without ever becoming mawkish and is reminiscent at times of The Kidnappers (1953), which was the work of the same director, Philip Leacock.
Lovejoy’s Mother (Bertha Mason)