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  Tim Driscoll's Donkey Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour's Ass
Year: 1955
Director: Terry Bishop
Stars: John Kelly, David Coote, Peggy Marshall, Carol Lorimer, Anthony Green, Shay Gorman, Hugh Latimer, Jacqueline Cox
Genre: AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tim Driscoll (David Coote) is an Irish orphan who lives with his grandfather (John Kelly) on the old man's farm, and the boy quickly grows attached to a donkey which has lost its mother, so Tim is able to rear it, calling the animal Patchy thanks to a patch of white over its eye. It is a willful beast that refuses to eat carrots as you might expect a normal donkey would enjoy, but it does love turnips instead, and his owner makes sure there is a steady supply of those to keep it happy. However, his grandfather sells donkeys to be taken to England, and while he would never sell Patchy, the donkey has an enemy in Tim's so-called friend Pat (Anthony Green), who falls from it when he tries to ride it, and determines to wreak his revenge...

This Children's Film Foundation effort was filmed in Ireland, taking advantage of the opportunities for splendid scenery for the young cast to act in, though it had to be said many of their accents were like no Irish you had ever heard on account of them being played by English kids. If you were able to forgive that (and many would not), then you had a low stakes adventure for Tim as Pat engineers it so that Patchy is taken away to be sold with the other donkeys, all while grandfather is unconscious after banging his head when he falls from a barn. With him out of action, Tim must take matters into his own hands and pursue his pet down the country lanes that make up the Irish highway system - very slowly, his mode of transport being a helpful traveller's caravan until he can secure a lift from an actual car later on in the story.

It had to be said, as pets in peril went, Patchy was not a, er, patch on the usual pet dogs that made up this sort of adventure, as he was a particularly inexpressive creature who showed nothing but utter indifference to the titular Tim: he even munches those turnips with utter indifference. Not so much as a braying "hee-haw!" passes his lips, and it seems the production had a hell of a lot of trouble getting it to do anything very much: mostly it just stands there with an air of low level hostility. Maybe it didn't like the mangling of the accents either. What it is good at is looking as if it did not wish to be moved, very convincing when any of the actors were called upon to lead it or indeed push it anywhere and it refused to budge, probably because it was not acting. Tim's love for this stubborn animal seems misplaced, though at least we got a plot out of it which lasts barely an hour as the usual CFF anxiety inducing mishaps mount up, from latterly missed boats to cartwheels falling off.

[This is available with eight other CFF films on the BFI's Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3, all on DVDs packed with extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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