The Yellow Balloon is a prime example of the type of atmospheric British drama that thrilled cinema audiences in Great Britain before the advent of television captured everybody’s imaginations through The Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
The film follows 10 year old Frankie Palmer (Andrew Ray) who one day catches sight of a man selling balloons to passers by from the window of his home. In particular a yellow balloon captures Frankie’s imagination and so procures the money from his father to purchase it. When Frankie sees his friend Ronnie has purchased the balloon, he playfully snatches it away and a wild chase follows up leading to a rickety skeleton of a blitzed building. The playful chase ends in a terrible accident, witnessed by the unscrupulous Len Turner who takes advantage by blackmailing young Frankie, convincing him he faces criminal charges. Too terrified to confide in his parents, Frankie becomes a pawn for Turner, coerced into a robbery that ends in murder.
Directed by J-Lee Thompson, The Yellow Balloon remains an enthralling piece of cinema featuring a backdrop of post war London whose bombed out streets are still visibly affected by the ravages of war and featuring a fabulous climax involving Frankie pursued through a disused London underground station by a murderous assailant.
In true classic British film fashion, The Yellow Balloon features some splendid support from the likes of Kenneth More, Sid James and Bernard Lee among others. The true stars are undoubtedly Andrew Ray who portrays a variety of emotions as young Frankie while William Sylvester delivers a chilling performance as the unscrupulous Len Turner.
- The Yellow Balloon is available from Studio Canal on DVD and Blu Ray now.
- A version of this review appeared by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on July 31, 2015.