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  Two a Penny The Other Side Of The Coin
Year: 1967
Director: James F. Collier
Stars: Cliff Richard, Ann Holloway, Dora Bryan, Avril Angers, Geoffrey Bayldon, Peter Barkworth, Donald Bisset, Edward Evans, Mona Washbourne, Tina Packer, Earl Cameron, Noel Davis, Nigel Goodwin, Charles Lloyd Pack, Billy Graham
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jamie Hopkins (Cliff Richard) is an art student who is more interested in making easy money than his studies. He is forever borrowing cash from everyone he knows, including girlfriend Carol (Ann Holloway), but he has an idea that will make him more comfortable than he already is and able to open the boutique he has always dreamed of. He goes to the gents' outfitters belonging to Mr Fitch (Geoffrey Bayldon), who is a drug dealer on the side, with a proposal to help him out in his illegal activities. However, Jamie plans to keep the money for himself, which might not go down too well with the criminals, but Jamie is oblivious to the flaws in his scheme. Will Carol help him see the light after going to see an evangelical sermon by Billy Graham?

Something happened to Cliff Richard halfway through the nineteen-sixties as the whole rock 'n' roll lifestyle began to pall in its appeal and he turned to more spiritual matters for fulfilment. As a result, and as a way of advertising Graham's appearance in Britain and his message of salvation, Richard made Two a Penny, scripted by Stella Linden, but it proved mildly controversial amongst religious types and his fans, then sank into obscurity. The main reason for the controversy is that the character he plays is deeply unsympathetic, and even by the end where Jamie is supposed to let the love of Christ into his heart, he doesn't seem entirely convinced, relying on an inspirational song over the final scene to convey his possible change of direction.

Today it's a curio thanks to Cliff's change of direction from all those wholesome musicals he had been appearing in on screens throughout the land during the decade. It's surprisingly gritty for its time, considering its star, and he does rather well as a Jack the lad who exploits everyone in his life until he meets his match. Along with that, is a realistic background of the late sixties that places it somewhere between the Second World War and the modern era, where Jamie can get up and sing "Twist and Shout" in a pub filled with people who would surely rather be hearing "We'll Meet Again". Carol's landlady (Avril Angers) was a showgirl during the war, and appears to harbour a longing for her youth in showbiz.

There is a generation gap, then, that is supposedly healed by the divine hand of God, a theme put across by one of his representatives here on Earth, Billy Graham. Carol is given a pair of tickets to see him at Earl's Court, and Jamie reluctantly agrees to go along, but due to a misunderstanding (and deliberate misinformation on the part of the landlady) they end up arriving separately. Carol seats herself in the audience and is suitably moved by the experience while Jamie bluffs his way onto the V.I.P. seats and sneers, as we hear in voiceover. Despite this, we do get to hear enough of Graham's sermon to see what he was getting at, and witness the man in action, which has as much historical value as the view of London Two a Penny brings. The upshot is that Carol turns Christian, but it takes bad behaviour and comeuppance to make Jamie change his ways. I can't help but feel that religious people would find there was too much of that bad behaviour in this film, while the as yet unconverted wouldn't be impressed by its agenda. Music by Mike Leander.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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