6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968 + 2010) [DVD] (DVD)
I was brought up with M. R. James' wonderful stories - as well as others in the same genre such as the collections of Lady Cynthia Asquith. The "psychological" approach of Miller worked extremely well in his version of Alice in Wonderland. It goes much too far in the present case - far too much focus on the neurotic nature of the professor and too little on the actual story content. James' stories were not psychological studies. They were about tangible horrors - and "Whistle and I'll come to you" is no exception. WHY did the film not set the scenario where it actually begins in the story - at Cambridge with a request that the professor look for the Templar preceptory? WHY did Parkins appear to retrieve the whistle as if he knew exactly where it was - without any attempt to search or poke about? WHY did the pursuing figure appear only in a dream - and not (as in the story) in actuality during his walk? WHY did the film spend so long on maids making beds, running baths, and the totally gratuitous conversation between Parkins and Colonel Wilson? Not to mention the fact that -in the story - Parkins DOES play golf with the colonel, and gets on well with him. WHY was the other Latin inscription on the whistle not mentioned ("Fla fur flebis" - 'blow, thief,and you'll weep')? WHY (at the finale) did the spectre not have the professor half out of the window as per story and the colonel play a more robust role in rescuing him? Michael Hordern of course saves this adaptation with his usual superb acting, but no thanks on this occasion to J. Miller. Well, just my opinion. It's still a piece of vintage BBC and well worth watching - unless you've read the story that is.