Cast & Crew
The parents of five-and-a-half-year-old Tommy Blackman, who are traveling by train from their home in Hollywood, California to a conference in Chicago, arrange to leave Tommy under Grandpa Blackman's care. When the taxi arrives to take them to Los Angeles' Union Station, Tinker, Tommy's pet chimpanzee, escapes from his cage and hops on the cab's back fender. Seeing Tinker ride away, Tommy assumes that the chimp is also headed for Chicago and asks his older friend Sandy to help him get to the train station. Tommy, dressed in a cowboy suit, sneaks out of the house via a ladder to his second story bedroom window and rides on the back of Sandy's bicycle toward downtown Los Angeles. After checking for Tinker at the animal shelter, Sandy takes Tommy as far as he is allowed to go, his grandmother's house. From there, Tommy continues on foot, dodging impatient drivers on wide streets and enduring threats by boys with popguns. Despite the dangers, Tommy stops to appreciate the sights: fire trucks, an automobile accident and something he finds especially intriguing, a business sign featuring a spinning wooden cowgirl. Meanwhile, Grandpa, who has been listening to a radio show about kidnapped children, discovers that Tommy is missing. He calls the police and then, as the dispatcher alerts patrolmen about the "possible kidnapping of a young boy wearing cowboy hat and boots," commences his own search of the neighborhood by car. At Union Station, Tinker jumps off the taxi and takes a seat next to Pat, a penniless hobo. Frightened, Pat takes off running, but Tinker, oblivious of Pat's feelings, follows him down the street. Later, the pursued and hungry Pat realizes that Tinker has stolen several bananas and reverses course, but the contrary Tinker keeps his distance, marking his trail with banana skins. Tiring of the chase, Pat gives up and returns to the train yard, where he encounters Tommy and introduces himself as "a knight of the road." Upon learning that Pat "knows how to get to places," Tommy asks him the way to Chicago. Pat warns Tommy that it is cold there during winter and, hoping to be rewarded by Tommy's grateful family with lunch and money, leads Tommy toward Hollywood. From the tops of lampposts and trees, Tinker observes them leave, and watches policemen search the yard, in response to a broadcast report that Tommy has been seen there with a hobo. Tinker climbs the bridge near the yard and meanders toward downtown, until he is spotted and chased by two policemen. Meanwhile, in Chinatown, after checking garbage cans for useful objects, Pat steals an orange from a storefront display. While he and Tommy share the orange, the police dispatcher warns patrolmen that Pat is "armed and dangerous." After Pat teaches Tommy how to hitchhike, a friendly woman in a green Jaguar convertible stops for them and they ride with her to Hollywood. Later, on a sidewalk next to a magic shop, Pat picks up a fifty-dollar bill. Unaware that it is play money accidentally dropped by a young customer, Pat takes Tommy to the Hollywood Gourmet Restaurant, where they order hamburgers. When the waitress declares that Pat's money is fake, Tommy and Pat flee, and a radio announcement soon warns about the "shrewd, fox-like cunning" of the man wearing a panama hat and tennis shoes. Hearing this broadcast on a radio in a store window, Pat recognizes himself from the description, and hastily abandons Tommy and his goodwill mission. Confused by Pat's sudden departure, Tommy chases after him, but Grandpa, who is still driving around, intercepts the boy. From a safe distance, Pat watches a policeman mistake Grandpa for the "vicious abductor" described on the radio. Both grandfather and grandson are taken into custody, but at the police station, Grandpa's real identity is established. Other policemen bring in the captured Tinker, who is then reunited with Tommy, and Grandpa takes them home. Although he is still hungry, Pat returns to the train yard and considers hopping a train.
Voice-over narration is heard intermittently throughout the film. "Sterling World Distributors present" and "Los Angeles 1959 A. D." appear before the opening title card. The chimpanzee's onscreen credit reads: "Tinker the Chimp Played by Dinke, Howard Bryant, Trainer." The Variety review recognized "certain [Charlie] Chaplinesque touches'" in Pat Goldin's portrayal of the tramp and praised first-time producer-director Erven Jourdan's "keen eye for interesting geometrical angles and patterns."
Shot entirely on location, almost every scene in The Half Pint shows recognizable parts of Hollywood and Los Angeles, among them Union Station, the Capitol Records Building, Frederick's of Hollywood and the L.A. Nut House. Noting the film's small budget, the Hollywood Reporter review described the film as "an exhilarating motion picture if for no other reason than it is made by a man who thinks film is an exciting medium, gets himself a camera and proves it."