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A Boy Ten Feet Tall (1963)

Sammy Going South (original title)
G | | Adventure | 21 April 1963 (UK)
Ten year old Sammy travels 4500 miles on his own from the Suez Canal to Durban, South Africa.


W.H. Canaway (novel), Denis Cannan
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward G. Robinson ... Cocky Wainwright
Fergus McClelland ... Sammy Hartland
Constance Cummings ... Gloria van Imhoff
Harry H. Corbett ... Lem
Paul Stassino ... Spyros Dracandopolous
Zia Mohyeddin ... The Syrian
Orlando Martins ... Abu Lubaba
John Turner ... Heneker
Zena Walker ... Aunt Jane
Jack Gwillim ... District Commissioner
Patricia Donahue ... Kathy Hartland
Jared Allen ... Bob Hartland
Guy Deghy ... Doctor
Marne Maitland ... Hassan
Steven Scott ... Egyptian Policeman at Luxor Hotel


A young boy living in Port Said, Egypt, narrowly escapes a bomb blast that destroys the apartment block where he lives. After discovering that both his parents were killed in the explosion, he decides to travel (on foot) to Durban, South Africa, to be with his only living relative, an aunt. During his 4500 mile journey across africa he has many adventures including a first hand experience with the slave trade and living for a time with a band of poachers and criminals. After several months of travel he finally arrives at his destination. Written by Kevin Steinhauer {K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Incredible Adventure in a Land That Knows a Thousand Dangers! See more »




G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 April 1963 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Boy Ten Feet Tall See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The British Board of Film Censors asked for certain scenes between Sammy and the Syrian peddler to be either cut or toned down. The producers were after a "U" certificate for the film and so had to comply. In the original full length version, the Syrian, who comes across Sammy laying on a sand dune in the middle of the Egyptian desert, is sexually attracted to Sammy and was shown lusting after him and trying to have his way with him. However, two small parts of the supposedly cut scenes did make it to the final release print. In one, the Syrian is kneeling before the standing Sammy and feeling the boy's right leg, while quite plainly and excitedly ogling the front of Sammy's khaki bush shorts, before grabbing hold of Sammy's right wrist and trying to drag the boy down onto the sand with him, while Sammy tries to wriggle free from his grasp. Originally released at 129 minutes (all but five seconds) the film, after its initial release in 1963, was, for some unknown reason, trimmed of ten minutes of footage and the original full length release version is now believed lost. See more »

Alternate Versions

Originally released at 118 minutes but shortened to 88 for US release. TV version restores missing footage. See more »


Referenced in Empire of the Sun (1987) See more »


Last Chance
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User Reviews

A good film, with some flaws
27 September 2006 | by hayesstwSee all my reviews

On one level it is a straight adventure story -- an orphaned boy's adventures in trying to cross a continent to find an aunt he has never met.

At another level it is more complex, as it shows his relationships with the different adults he meets. Some are uncaring, while others try to exploit him, and leave him hardened by the encounters so that when he meets people who help him with no ulterior motive, he remains detached and withdrawn from real human contact. At first sight Fergus McClelland seems to have a rather wooden performance as the boy, Sammy Hartland, but in fact this is part of the character in the story.

Eventually it is a diamond smuggler, played by Edward G. Robinson, who breaks through his reserve, and begins to bring him out of his shell.

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