August 9th, 2009

Alan

Whistle Down the Wind

Having listened to Test Match Special for most of the day I decided I couldn’t bear to watch Cricket on Five. I’d recorded the 1961 film Whistle Down the Wind so I watched that instead. My mother took my sister and me to see it one school holidays, probably during some horrible wet week. What I remembered most about it afterwards was the haunting theme music. You can find it on Spotify, making sure you clock Malcolm Arnold and not Lloyd Webber. Failing that, listen here for 60 seconds.

The black and white film is bleakly set in a wintry, muddy Lancashire countryside. Three farm children find a man in their barn and believe he is Jesus. Hayley Mills stars as the eldest child and Alan Bates as the fugitive. It’s spare, well scripted (by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse), well acted and very touching without being at all sentimental. From this distance it’s also a period piece: children in gumboots; no telephone; policemen who wear trilbys and drive vintage cars. Excellent! Here’s a clip.



I was wondering whether, as I got older and enjoyed watching The Parent Trap and other Hayley Mills vehicles again, I might be getting a bit of a thing about her. Looking at the tributes people have made for YouTube, I realise I have a way to go before I need worry. Still, when I eventually get myself a working DVD player, this will be one of the films I’ll buy.