|WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND (director: Bryan Forbes; screenwriters: novel by Mary Hayley Bell /Keith Waterhouse/Willis Hall; cinematographer: Arthur Ibbetson; editor: Max Benedict; music: Malcolm Arnold; cast: Hayley Mills (Kathy Bostock), Alan Barnes (Charlie Bostock), Diane Holgate (Nan), Alan Bates (Arthur Blakey), Bernard Lee (Mr. Bostock), Norman Bird (Eddie), Elsie Wagstaff (Auntie Dorothy), Diane Clare (Miss Lodge), John Arnatt (Teesdale); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Richard Attenborough; New Line Home Cinema; 1961-UK)|
|"My only amazement is that the
melodrama didn't turn mawkish."
by Dennis Schwartz
is the first directorial effort by Bryan Forbes
("Seance on a Wet Afternoon"/"The
Stepford Wives"/"The Madwoman of
Chaillot"). Writers Forbes,
Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall base it on the novel
by Mary Hayley Bell. The author is the mother of
Hayley Mills. It has a simple but ridiculous plot,
that tries to get by on charm and New Testament
allegory smartness. It poses as a study on childhood
innocence and how they can be manipulated by adults.
But even if an old-fashioned and outdated children's
pic, it's entertaining, well-made and deftly sidesteps
English farm, up north in Lancashire County, a widowed
father (Bernard Lee) lives with
his three young children: Kathy (Hayley Mills), Nan
(Diane Holgate) and Charlie (Alan Barnes). Kathy is
the oldest at about 13, while the scene-stealing
Charlie is 6. Eddie (Norman Bird) works
there as a farmhand. One day the children awaken a
disheveled stranger sleeping in their barn, where they
just placed kittens they rescued from drowning. They
do not realize that they have woken up an escaped
convicted killer, Arthur Blakey (Alan Bates, his film
debut). When the surprised vagrant blurts out Jesus to
their question of who he is, the sweet children take
him literally and mistake him for Jesus Christ. What
happens in the ensuing story is predictable, as it
tosses in a few New Testament references and tries its
best to protect the innocence of the children with the
adult need to get justice for the escapee.
My only amazement is that the melodrama didn't turn mawkish.
REVIEWED ON 10/28/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ