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Winners – The Paper Boy (1985)


It is 1932 and Joe (Christopher Schlusser) is 11 years old. When his father John Riordan (Tony Llewellyn Jones) loses his factory job, Joe gets a job as a paper boy, and his tiny wage is all the family has to live on. Working on the streets, Joe mixes with the unemployed, the other paper boys, the exservicemen, the evangelists, the buskers and communist agitators – all fighting for survival.

Joe’s father goes to the pub with what little money they have and when Joe becomes interested in Communism the tension between father and son increases. After a fight, Joe runs away and starts living on the streets. He toughens up to survive and to earn enough money for his mother (Linden Wilkinson). When he becomes ill, Joe has to return home. His father has stopped drinking and Joe and his father are reconciled. Mr Riordan finally gets a job and the family celebrates with a belated Christmas.

Curator’s notes

This heavy going, rather bleak film was not popular with children. With subplots dealing with complex political philosophies, a lot of it may not interest the majority of the target audience. The Paper Boy is however, a beautifully shot period film that captures the era and gives a realistic insight into the lives of struggling people in the depression.

First broadcast in 1985 on Network Ten.