Archive for October 20th, 2015

To all writers and readers of Wonders in the Dark:

by Sam Juliano

As everyone who has been following the site well knows, we have tentative plans to conduct a Greatest Science-Fiction Films countdown near the end of the first quarter of the new year.  Although I personally took the reigns of the past hugely successful five countdowns, I have yielded to others to set the rules and regulations of the new poll for several reasons.  First off, I personally need a break, though my involvement will still be as passionate and as time consuming as the other countdowns.  Secondly, I think it would be great to have us look at this genre from another angle, with new markers to gauge our examination of science fiction cinema.  I am not to be sure throwing up my hands and saying I am buckling under to pressure or that I am doing what I really don’t want to do.  If that were the case I would have resisted.  I want and welcome the change.  I always like to pursue new avenues when possible.  It has nothing to do with how well the past countdowns came down.  The evidence suggests they were monster hits.  But I see no reason to believe the 2016 venture will be any different.  There are other things going on at the site now, what with the Caldecott Contender series almost set to go and some promised Saturday action.  I am sure Allan will be posting some of his Obscuros and as always Jim Clark is there every other week with his painstaking work.  I wanted to clear the air, so there are no future misunderstandings.

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WTDW - cinematog b

by John Grant

The British gem ‘Whistle Down the Wind” came very close to making the Greatest Childhood/Adolescent Films Countdown.  At ‘Noirish’ the renowned John Grant reviewed it magnificently in one of the writer’s greatest essays.

UK / 96 minutes / bw / Beaver, Allied Film Makers, Rank Dir: Bryan Forbes Pr:Richard Attenborough Scr: Keith Waterhouse, Willis Hall Story:Whistle Down the Wind (1959) by Mary Hayley Bell Cine: Arthur Ibbetson Cast: Hayley Mills, Bernard Lee, Alan Bates, Diane Holgate, Alan Barnes, Roy Holder, Barry Dean, Norman Bird, Diane Clare, Patricia Heneghan, John Arnatt, Gerald Sim, Elsie Wagstaff, Hamilton Dyce, Howard Douglas, Ronald Hines, Michael Lees, Michael Raghan.

A number of movies have taken as their subject the mythopoeic tendencies of young minds, whereby they can generate fantastical explanations for misunderstood events, or even their own spiritualities—their own mythologies and religions, in fact. The Lord of the Flies (1963), based on the 1954 William Golding novel, is the example that usually springs most readily to mind; others include The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), Celia (1988), My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and, arguably, The Babadook (2014). First on the scene, though, and in my view the most effective of all of these—certainly the most poignantly beautiful—is Whistle Down the Wind.

In a small Lancastrian community, the three children of the Bostock farm—Kathy (Mills), Nan (Holgate) and the youngest, Charles (Barnes)—save a trio of kittens, the latest litter of farm cat Dusty, from being drowned in a sack by feckless farmhand Eddie (Bird). Charles tries to fob off one of the kitten on first his pal Jackie Greenwood (Holder) and then a Salvation Army street evangelist (Heneghan). The latter tells him that she can’t take the proffered kitten but that she’s sure Jesus will look after it. From this casual statement flows much later confusion.


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