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4.8 out of 5 stars174
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 22 January 2010
It's great.
Richard Attenbouough gave Bryan Forbes his first big directorial break on this strange and charming British classic. Mr Forbes later made some rotten films but, under Dickie's wing he made a truly great job of this.
Compared to modern Hollywood films which are almost invariably at least 30 minutes too long this is a very tight and efficient screen play... Keith Waterhouse's touch: there's no time wasted and nothing that does not contribute to the sum of the parts: more like watching a good stage play than a film.
Alan bates actually has quite a limited role, but pulls it off with aplomb, capturing the enigmatic nature of the role of "Blakey", the criminal on the run who the children believe to be Jesus Christ: he presents the character neither as a frightening baddie nor as some kind of one-dimensional anti-heroic victim but "just a fella".
Bernard Lee's good as Mr Bostock, the kids' decent but rather harassed, grumpy widowed farmer Dad.
Hayley Mills, who's mum wrote the book is ...well Hayley Mills. Britain's never "done" child actors like America does and Hayley can be a tad wooden at times, but the theatrical nature of the film lets you suspend disbelief as she just about manages a Lancashire accent over her carefully-elocuted drama school voice.
But the runaway star of the whole film is little Alan Barnes as Charlie Bostock. His performance is utterly naturalistic and his phlegmatic, tell-it-like-it-is simplicity is a complete joy to watch. Everyone should watch this just to see this kid, who only ever appeared in one other film. He was obviously just being himself.
Great music too by Malcom Arnold which really enhances the emotional nature of this drama, complimenting the rather stark, uncluttered black-and-white photography.

An out-and-out classic. Thughtful, but easy watching and emotional, making the hairs on the back of your head stand up without being a full-on tear-jerker.
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on 26 April 2015
Had the video for some years and now need to update to DVD. My daughter ( who is 27) and I absolutely love this film. They certainly do not make them like they used to along with classics such as "To Sir with Love' and 'A Taste of Honey' Being born in 1960 I can relate to the era and the innocence of the children. Brings back so many memories of my own childhood and how carefree they were. Haley Mills played her part superbly. The part of the script that always gets stuck in my mind is "You can't call a cat spider' "yes I can its my kitten!'
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Bryan Forbes directed, here, his first film; an adaptation, in black and white, of Mary Hayley Bell's story of childhood naiveté contrasted with adult cynicism. The screenplay, written by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse, teeters on the edge of mawkishness at times but just about manages to avoid the kind of sentimentality that mars similar films within this genre and skilfully positions the viewer to see the world through the eyes of a child. In this sense it resembles `To Kill a Mockingbird' released a year later.

It features some of the stalwarts of post-war British cinema and Alan Bates delivers a suitably under stated performance as the bearded fugitive, Blakey, the credulous kids mistake for Jesus when they discover him hiding in their barn. Using kids from the local primary schools of its rural Lancashire setting as `disciples' it successfully juxtaposes their current innocence with the harsh realities of the adult world they've yet to experience as it retells the story of Christ's betrayal and delivery into the hands of the authorities. In one scene towards the end a `disciple' is bullied into admitting that Blakey isn't really Jesus just before we hear the local train passing by blowing its whistle!

With its wonderfully evocative and now iconic Malcolm Arnold score it's both a sheer delight from beginning to end and a time machine back to a period that truly, now, seems an age of innocence.
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on 3 November 2012
Classic English film, stunning location, just a really old fashioned feel good film. Great family viewing, fantastic cinematography.
Would highly recommend. (we've watched it 3 times in 2 weeks).
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on 27 July 2013
I saw this movie when i was a child, i didn't remember the title for a long time. I am glad to have found it now. This is excellent work of the actors/actresses, especially Haley Mills. It also shows the innocence and open heart of children, they just want to help (in this case they think the man is Jesus Christ) and have a complete different thinking compared to the adults. I also love the beginning of the movie when the children saved the cat's life.

Another great movie of course is "Tiger Bay".
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on 23 November 2014
A killer on the run, played by Alan Bates, hides in a barn which is part of an isolated farm. When Kathy, one of the young daughters of the owner, played by Hayley Mills, wanders in and finds him, she asks him his name. In a semi-conscious state, he answers: Jesus Christ. Instantly, she takes him at his word, and tells her younger sister, and later their younger brother. Together, the three of them keep him hidden in the barn, and smuggle out food for him, not telling any of the adults.

This is a story of childhood innocence, and the way children use their imagination. If you like British 60's Black & White films, then you should enjoy this. Directed by Bryan Forbes, and produced by Richard Attenborough, and made using their Beaver Films company, which they formed together.

Picture Quality is good overall, not as good as a modern film, but remember, this film is 53 years old and has not had any restoration done to it, with only a few scratches on the print used for the transfer, nothing to detract from the enjoyment of watching the film.
The original aspect ratio of this film is 1.66:1. On the back of the dvd cover it simply states 16x9, without giving a ratio. I would guess that this has been transferred in it's original ratio. The sound is in the original mono.
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on 14 November 2011
Another film I had only ever seen in "bits" and what a revelation to watch it all through. Funny, poignant, dramatic, sad, this film has it all. Did the Hayley Mills character want to protect Alan Bates not just because she thought he was Jesus, but because as a girl on the verge of womanhood she felt something else?
Bernard Lee superb as ever as the slightly to old widower father, still wearing his ex army tunic and beret. A fantastic performance by the youngster who plays Hayley Mills little brother, providing some real comic moments. A film without bad language sex scenes, or CGI and utterly enchanting despite or more probably because of it. This is a film to buy and treasure, to sit down and watch with your maiden aunt and/or young children,(I did exactly that) rest assured they will be enchanted.
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on 11 November 2014
One of the best films involving children, ever. It's a sublime, charming little film, and it well deserves the term 'classic.' The children are all wonderful, the image is crisp and beautiful, and the way the story reveals how the illusions of childhood are slowly worn away by the harsh realities of the world, is brilliantly written. It's a great, purely British film. It made a huge impact on me when I saw it at a very young age, and that spell is still there, watching it today. And it's very funny. Great stuff. But on another subject-why are there people on this post who say that Brian Forbes never made good films? That's ill informed nonsense. Seance On A Wet Afternoon, The L-Shaped Room, King Rat, The Angry Silence, Only Two Can Play, and Whistle Down the Wind - these films are ALL classics! He made some mediocre movies, like all writer directors, but that short list alone would put him at the top of the list of British film makers. So let's hear it for Brian Forbes. He was connected with some of the best British films ever made.
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on 31 October 2011
"whistle down the wind" on my top ten list. when i get a new copy, i want to share the experience and always end up giving it away. so, this isn't the first time i've bougth the dvd but i was just as thrilled to watch again, never get fed up of it. finding, ordering and receiving this last copy couldn't have been easier or quicker.
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on 10 September 2013
I have watched this so many times and love it still. It is so different.. Alan Bates is great in the lead roll and Hayley Mills is also excellent. A really good story that is totally absorbing and engaging. And all those children in it.. they are all stars.
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