The Wonder Kid (England, 1951)

Figure 1.--Here we see Sebastian Giro, the 'The Wonder Kid' played by Bobby Henrey. Sebastian was a French orphan musical prodigy being taken advantage of by a crooked musical promoter. His nanny, Mrs Fresbie figures out how to get his money back--stage a kidnapping.

The 1951 film 'The Wonder Kid' stared Bobby Henrey playing the part of a musical prodigy called Sebastian Giro. The screenplay was written by Gene Markey. The film was directed by Karl Hartl. The picture was filmed in the Austrian Tyrol and at the Isleworth Studios in England. This was Bobby Henrey’s second and final film. His first movie film was 'The Fallen Idol' (1948). In 'The Wonder Kid', Sebastian Giro is a French World war II orphan. He is a gifted pianist and came under the influence of a musical promoter, Mr. Gorik. He exploits the boy’s talent. Not only that but he embezzles the takings so that Sebastian receives only a pittance for his performances. Gorik is also mean to the boy by not allowing him to play with other children or have a pet dog. He is not allowed to read comic books. There are two touching scenes that illustrate the boys longing to play with other children. From his apartment window he watches boys playing football. He longs to play with them. He also sees a boy playing with his pet dog. Sebastian wishes the dog was his pet. He is looked after by a well experienced nanny, Miss Frisbie. She confronts Gorik about the way he is treating Sebastian. She also tells him she knows he is embezzling Sebastian’s money. She thinks of a plan to hire a gang of crooks to 'kidnap' the boy. They take him to the Austrian Tyrol where he has the time of his life fishing, swimming, reading comic books and the best of all having a dog to play with. In the film he is dressed in a Lord Fauntleroy suit when he is performing at a concert. Actually that was quite common in the early 20th century and even in the 1950s, prodigy could be dressed in rather jivenile outfits. When he is at home with Gorik he is dresed in short trousers, a short sleeve shirt, a sleeveless pullover, white ankle socks, and shoes. After being kidnapped he dresses in an Austrian Tyrol outfit which he wears for much of the film. He meets local boys who are throwing mud at a poster annoucing his future performance. They think Sebastian is a sissy, but he gets into a fight with one of the boys and wins it. He shows what he thinks about his Fauntleroy outfit. He says, "How would you like to wears these!" to one of the gangsters. He scoops up the garments and throws them on the fires. Towards the end of the film he returns home but he will not let Gorik exploit him any more. He tells him that he does not want to wear the silly Fauntleroy clothes when he is performing. He says he wants to wear long trousers like other ordinary boys. A HBC reviewer writes, " A good story but I think it is a little unbelievable that a gang of kidnappers would collect money for Sebastian and see to it that he has a jolly pleasant time while he is kidnapped." The film was not a box office or critical success. The studio produced the film as a vehicle for Bobby whi was a sebnsation in 'Fallen Idol', but the fim had none of the impact of Bobby's succes. Bobby was never an actor or interested in acting. The success of the first film was more due to due to brilliant directing and shooting. As result of the disappointing results, Bobby's parents decided to end his film career and he wnt back to being a schoolboy.

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Created: 1:29 PM 5/12/2017
Last updated: 9:15 AM 5/13/2017