Soapbox Derby (1958) Poster


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A Young Michael Crawford
drednm14 December 2014
In Soapbox Derby, which runs a hair more than an hour, we get 15-year-old Michael Crawford as head of a "gang" (more a club) called the Battersea Bats. They are keen to enter a soapbox derby and work hard on designing and fabricating a car. But a rival gang also wants to win. But they decide to steal the plans and copy the design rather than do their own work. More sophisticated and realistic than the US "Our Gang" shorts, the film shows the triumph of good work over those who steal and lie. Very watchable. The on-location shooting is excellent. Although the film ends with the bad boys losing the race (of course) and falling into mud (for a good belly laugh) it also has its dramatic moments as when one boy's little sister gets run over by a truck.

Crawford is especially spunky and shows his prowess at knockabout comedy. Cast also includes Mark Daly as Grandpa, Jean Ireland as the mother, and Denis Shaw as the odious Mr. Lender.

Also of interest in Soapbox Derby is a truly ugly little car called an Isetta, almost a 3-wheeled car with the single door on the front of the vehicle.
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A fine film
Leofwine_draca7 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
SOAPBOX DERBY is another fine Children's Film Foundation adventure, clocking in at an hour and shot in Battersea. Anybody who has fond memories of old-fashioned childhoods involving fights, chases, races, go-karts and outdoor fun will be in their element with this one, which provides crisp black-and-white photography and an enthusiastic cast of youngsters headed by a pre-stardom Michael Crawford, showing elements of the agility and greatness that would see him go on to worldwide stardom. What's most impressive is just how much plot is crammed into the hour running time; there's no slow moments here, just moments of high peril, drama, action, comedy, some shocking plot twists and general childhood camaraderie. If only modern day children's films had the same level of depth; I honestly think the world would be a better place.
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