Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
Ok it's a bit sentimental BUT...
on 22 January 2010
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.