Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

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.
33 Comments| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 8 October 2015
i really love this film - Hayley Mills was wonderful, but her little brother stole the picture for me!
33 Comments| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 1 May 2015
I first saw this film many years ago when I was a teenager & found it very moving; I never forgot it. Several decades later & I decided to buy the DVD & have today just watched it again. I still think this is a wonderful film with fantastic child actors, but had forgotten how funny some of the children are, particularly Charles, the youngest son - he has some great lines & is a cracking little actor - he almost stole the film. I love that the children were chosen from the local school so that their accents are authentic. In some ways I find it hard to watch as you see how much harder & basic life was in the 1950s & 60s & how different attitudes were to children then, not that they were cruelly treated but just that children were treated & spoken to differently then & there doesn't seem much tenderness shown to the 3 children, but that is with 21stC sensibilities. When I first watched the film I didn't see this as I was living in that era although thankfully not motherless. Athough I think that today so many children & teenagers are pampered and infantalised to the extent that many of them seem incapable of crossing the road on their own, I think it is progress that we understand so much more about children's emotional health & are kinder to them. For me the most heart wrenching moment is at the end when Kathy is standing on her own after the Alan Bates character has been led away ; she looks so desolate & all I could think was that she had no mother to turn to & to hug her. In fact I feel that the reason Kathy is so ready to believe that Alan Bates is Jesus is because her own mother is dead & "in heaven". The only thing that didn't ring true to me was the children's father. He seems rather old in comparison to the age of the children although it is possible he married a much younger woman, but in those days the majority of people married in their early/mid twenties which would mean he should be in his forties. I feel that the actor playing the father looks looks too old & too well fed for a physically active farmer in the early sixties - but I am ready to be told that I may be overthinking this. This is a marvelous film, and I love it.
44 Comments| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 8 January 2013
A man walks along a muddy track carrying a sack. Three children follow, cautiously, out of sight of the man. They are intent on liberating its contents after the sack is thrown into the nearby pond. Three kittens are rescued.

From the opening bars of Malcolm Arnold's haunting score (which will either bring back memories or drive you nuts as the refrain is repeated continually throughout the film), so begins a truely classic film.

Based on Mary Hayley Bell's book of the same name (don't bother, it adds nothing and is clumsily written) and with some astonishing acting given the age of the film and the young actors, this is a film to share with your kids. My daughter still quotes Charles' wonderful opening line, said with all the seriousness only a child of a certain age can muster ... "Ey oop, want a kitten, Jackie?"

OK, the religious symbolism is laid on thick (not so much with a trowel than with a JCB). But accept that, and you have a truely heartwarming story.

22 Comments| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 5 September 2012
I loved this film when it first came out. It is perhaps not the best made film in the world - Bryan Forbes never quite was able to make a really well-made film - but the kids and the story are great. ALL of the kids give great performances, as do the adults including Bernard Lee (M) and a young Alan Bates. It is a tragically sad film and reduces MOST people to tears. Why Andrew Lloyd Weber felt compelled to move the setting to the US when he turned this story into a musical, I do not know. Perhaps he could reset it and let someone else produce and stage it. Meanwhile, I highly recommend this film - it is great to watch with your kids.
22 Comments| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 28 September 2006
I was one of the schoolchildren who ran on in the closing minutes of the film, to the farm at the foot of Worsaw Hill in Lancashire. There were several takes of this scene, and we alternately ran into the farmyard from along the stream in front, and down a rather steep part of the hill and into the farmyard. Many of the children chosen for disciple parts and principal parts were from Chatburn Primary School. The entire front row in the final gate scene were also Chatburn schoolkids. We were paid ten shillings as extras for each day's shooting. I remember earlier in the year - probably 1960 - Bryan Forbes and Dickie Attenborough came round to the school, and we were all lined up against a wall while they were doing cast selections.

Of course the film was a big hit locally when it premiered (at the Odeon in Burnley). It still is, as most people in the surrounding villages are related to someone who was in it.

It was a long time before I was able to develop a proper adult opinion of 'Whistle'. What strikes me now is how opinion in various reviews I have seen, and discussed, splits along the lines of the division of opinion among the protagonists. Having once 'identified' The Man as Jesus, even in spite of ("adult") evidence to the contrary, Kathy and Nan, and apparently also the disciples, persist in believing that he was Jesus and is being persecuted all over again. Charlie is the lone dissenter, who interprets the evidence of his senses and concludes "It's not Jesus. It's just a fella". So the overall flavour of the film from an analytical perspective is that in the matter of religious faith, presentation of contrary facts is completely irrelevant to the persistence of the belief. A more cynical twist on this: in so far as only children were party to the belief, while adults only saw a dangerous criminal, it suggests that irrational belief systems require a childlike worldview. This is doubly damning for Faith versus Facts.

And yet, People Still Believe.
11 Comment| 53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
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.
11 Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 13 September 2014
Innocent young children take everything to heart. This story revolves around this fact. An escaped criminal takes shelter in a barn. A young girl enters and sees the man, "Who are you?" Disgusted at having been spotted, the criminal blurts out "Jesus Christ". Each child within the village gets to know that 'JC' is amongst them, it is their secret.
22 Comments|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
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.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 30 December 2012
A film I saw over 35yrs ago but never forgot. Thankful how so easy to track and buy archival films like tis these days.
It is one of the few films that quite seriously takes on the absurdity of Belief. It treads a double edge that made it acceptable in its day but the little boy is marvellous as a little atheist. He puts in an unforgettable comic performance and very representative of children to see straight through adults. I loved scenes like the gleam in his eye when making a gift of his kitten to Jesus but he is still going to defy everyone and call it Spider.
Alan Bate is haunting as the jaded criminal on the run. He brings out a quality that here is a yet a beautiful man if his soul had not been sewn on rocky ground. Towards the end when his cover has been blown does the girl plead I love you because he is Jesus or because he awakened in her an attraction. ?Haley Mills is lovely to watch and brings such freshness.
All the characters and actors are sound and colorful. Since the children were asked to act themselves in the role of being children, they are convincing!! and bring great charm to the film in pleasing contrast to the adults who seem characatured in their role as adults.
This film radiates the wide-eyed innocence of youth and has a gentleness about it pleasing to watch despite it is full of tongue in cheek ironies on the nature of religion. Brrrrr even filmed in black and white the hills surrounding that farm/ village always look damp, cold and windy under grey skies. But this was back in the day when children were playing out-doors in all weathers fabricating toys from bits of string etc than indoors watching TV. Made in 1961 there is a sort of documentary feel to how life was before the wars when people were still concentrated in themselves rather than diffused by the media ( starting with radio and TV)
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)