Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1950s Yellow Balloon, The (1953)

Yellow Balloon, The (1953)

A young boy dies while playing in the ruins of a London neighbourhood destroyed during the blitz. His friend Frankie (Andrew Ray) – who was with him at the time and blames himself – is blackmailed by a local ne’er-do-well called Len (William Sylvester) and is forced to steal from his parents or be accused of causing his friend’s death.

It will get worse for Frankie before it gets better as Len persuades him to steal for him with the sob story that he needs the money desperately and the boy is the only one who can help.

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Frankie responds by trailing around the city at night and watching for opportunities to nick some cash, although what he does end up stealing is a pineapple from the fruit barrow of Sid James.

Len doesn’t have any use for the fruit, but he has an idea that will place the child in danger when he is used as a way into a pub after closing time one night so that Len may rob it.

Needless to say, this ends badly, and the climax sees a murderous Len tracking Frankie through the tunnels of the London Underground.

A typical example of the many dour dramas churned out by postwar British cinema. Exploiting the period’s austere atmosphere and run-down landscapes, it owes much to such Hollywood “child in peril” pictures as The Window.

In his second film as writer/director, J Lee Thompson would have done better to focus on the relationship between timid Frankie and fugitive killer Len, but he can’t resist throwing in a social message and a family crisis that slows the action and dilutes the suspense.

Kenneth More flops as the doting dad, but Kathleen Ryan makes a monstrously shrewish mother.

yellowballoonFrankie Palmer
Andrew Ray
Emily Palmer
Kathleen Ryan
Ted Palmer
Kenneth More
Len Turner
William Sylvester
Constable Chapman
Bernard Lee
Sunday School Teacher
Veronica Hurst
Mary
Hy Hazell
Iris
Sandra Dorne
Potter
Campbell Singer
Charlie
Sidney James
Mrs Jessie Stokes
Marjorie Rhodes
Pawnbroker
Eliot Makeham
Sid the spiv
Peter Jones
Ron
Stephen Fenemore

Director
J. Lee Thompson