Sammy Going South
A welcome DVD premiere for this lesser known, handsomely mounted and now digitally restored Alexander Mackendrick film from 1963, his first directorial credit after Sweet Smell of Success. Based on a novel by WH Canaway (who would go on to adapt The Ipcress File), it’s a coming-of-age story-cum-road movie set in the African continent – and shot in glorious Cinemascope by BAFTA-nominated cinematographer Erwin Hillier.
Opening in Port Said, Egypt at the height of the Suez Crisis, the titular ten-year-old boy (impressive first-timer Fergus McClelland) finds himself orphaned when his parents are killed during an air raid. Thereafter, the plucky scamp undertakes a lengthy and perilous journey to his aunt in Durban, South Africa, en route encountering various untrustworthy adults, a Syrian peddler, a rich American tourist, before being adopted by a world-weary hunter (the marvellous Edward G Robinson). It’s a kid’s film for grown-ups. Extras: interviews with McLelland and Mackendrick fan James Mangold.