Penny Paradise

Penny Paradise is a 1938 British comedy film directed by Carol Reed and starring Edmund Gwenn, Betty Driver and Jimmy O'Dea.[1] It was an early directorial assignment for Reed, and along with many other British productions of the era such as the same year's better-known Reed-directed Bank Holiday, is described as: "...belonging to a wider studio tradition of modest representation of ordinary British life."[2]

Penny Paradise
1938 Ealing campaign book cover
Directed byCarol Reed
Produced byBasil Dean
Written byThomas Browne
Walter Meade
Thomas Thompson
Basil Dean
StarringEdmund Gwenn
Betty Driver
Jimmy O'Dea
Music byHarry O'Donovan
CinematographyRonald Neame
Gordon Dines
Edited byErnest Aldridge
Distributed byAssociated British
Release date
  • 24 September 1938 (1938-09-24)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


The film is set in Liverpool, where tugboat captain Joe Higgins (Edmund Gwenn), believing he has won a fortune on the football pools, resigns from his job and throws a party in a local public house where family and friends some of whom have an eye on a share of the winnings gather to celebrate his good luck. Higgins pays court to the widow Clegg (Maire O'Neill) who he has been wooing, while his daughter Betty (Betty Driver) is targeted by a chancer who sniffs money. The party grinds to a halt with the arrival of the hapless Pat (Jimmy O'Dea), Higgins' Irish first mate on the tugboat, who is forced to admit that he forgot to post the winning pools coupon. There now seems no reason for celebration, but Higgins is mollified when his former employer offers him the captaincy of the best tugboat on the River Mersey, a position to which he had long aspired.

The action of the film is interspersed with several musical numbers performed by Driver and one by O'Dea. While O'Dea's song is clearly provided for comic effect, those sung by Driver are presented straight.



  1. Evans, Peter William (6 August 2005). "Carol Reed". Manchester University Press via Google Books.
  2. Basil Dean BFI Screen Online. Retrieved 31-07-2010
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