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DVD Review: Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968)

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Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968)

Directed by Jonathan Miller

DVD: Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968)Michael Hordern stars in this BBC adaptation of M. R. James' classic ghost story "Oh Whistle and I'll Come To You, My Lad". Whistle and I'll Come to You was produced in 1968 and originally shown as part of the BBC's Omnibus TV series, not as part of the A Ghost Story for Christmas series—which the BBC ran in the 1970s—but people often make mistakes about this and even Amazon attributes the DVD to A Ghost Story for Christmas.

Hordern stars as a crusty college professor called Parkins, who is holidaying near the coast. Parkins is actually quite an annoying character, who is a bit of a loner, and yet he still manages to be strangely endearing. At mealtimes the professor chooses not to sit at the main table with the other holidaymakers, opting instead to sit at a little table all by himself, fidgeting and looking a little uncomfortable. He is certainly not someone who could be described as 'a people person.'

Michael Hordern in Whistle and I'll Come to YouGolf appears to be a big attraction in the area, but Parkins has no interest in the game. In fact, when a fellow guest, the Colonel—who also seems to be holidaying alone—offers him a game, Parkins refuses and chooses, instead, to take a packed lunch and go for "a good trudge" among the sand dunes. He even spends a little time in an old and very overgrown cemetery and, while he is there, Parkins finds and old whistle sticking out of the ground near one of the graves. "Finders keepers," he says and stuffs it into his pocket.

Michael Hordern in Whistle and I'll Come to YouLater that day, back in his room at the guest house, Parkins takes out his pocket knife and begins to clean the whistle. While he is doing so he notices an inscription written on it, in Latin. He translates the words to mean: Who is this who is coming? Who indeed? The Professor raises the whistle to his lips and blows. From that moment on Parkins is haunted by bad dreams, but that is just the start of his problems and the logical college professor discovers all too soon that there are some things that defy a rational, scientific explanation.

Michael Hordern in Whistle and I'll Come to YouI enjoyed watching Whistle and I'll Come to You. I like the dated, period feel of the programme—old furniture, and maids to run the bathwater for the guests; flat caps and bushy moustaches; eiderdowns and blankets, rather than duvets; and curtains at the windows instead of blinds. Even a nice coal fire. Whistle and I'll Come to You is a dark story though, that borders on depressing at times. The scene where Professor Parkins is walking down the beach, and looks over his shoulder and sees a shadowy figure watching him, is particularly memorable and sends an unsettling cold shiver down the spine.

Michael Hordern in Whistle and I'll Come to YouWhistle and I'll Come to You  probably won't appeal to everyone. If you are the sort of person who prefers a classic ghost tale though, this is it. Look no further. Whistle and I'll Come to You is the kind of dark, atmospheric story that gets the nerves tingling in ways that a lot of modern horror movies never will. The script is based on a good story, written by someone who was—at the time—one of the best in his field; and Michael Hordern was the perfect choice for the role of Parkins; he does an excellent job of bringing the character to life. The rest of the cast are equally good and when the script and cast are put together all of the necessary ingredients are there, so no fancy special effects were needed to spice up the mix. Modern film producers could probably learn a lot from this one, because a truly great story can stand on its own, and does not need a crutch of fancy technical wizardry because the magic is already there.

Whistle and I'll Come to You (DVD)

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Rating: 4 out of 5.






Runtime: 42 mins
Certificate:  PG (UK)



Michael Hordern in Whistle and I'll Come to You

CAST

 Michael Hordern     ...  Professor Parkins
 Ambrose Coghill     ...  The Colonel
 George Woodbridge ...  Hotel proprietor
 Nora Gordon          ...  Proprietress
 Freda Dowie           ...  Maidnsert cast

 

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