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Whistle Down The Wind (1961)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Three children, Kathy, the eldest, Nan and their brother Charlie, the youngest, live on a remote farm in North Lancashire with their father and aunt. Rescuing some kittens that their labourer Eddie has tried to drown in the river, they hide them in their barn. That night Kathy takes the kitten's mother to the barn and finds a man hiding there. When she asks him who he is, startled, he mumbles "Jesus Christ!" before passing out. Kathy returns to the farm and tells Nan that Jesus is sleeping in their barn.

The next morning they intercept Eddie, who is taking a sick calf to the barn, and offer to do it for him. After Eddie has gone they go to the barn and give the stranger food and drink. Charlie finds them there and they decide to keep the man's presence a secret until he tells them what to do.

While the children are at Sunday School, a policeman tells the vicar about an escaped criminal. Kathy asks the teacher what would happen if Jesus Christ were to return to earth. She answers that he might still be persecuted, but that the children should praise him. They return to the barn and find the stranger awake, but clearly ailing; they reassure him that they have told no one of his whereabouts. At lunch their father tries to warn them about speaking to strangers, but doesn't mention the man wanted by the police.

After buying some supplies for the stranger, the three children find their Sunday School class waiting to meet 'Jesus'. Kathy is furious with Charlie, who has revealed their secret to his best friend. They all go to the barn and he reads to them from a newspaper. They are interrupted by the vet, who has been brought there to look at the sick calf. The stranger manages to hide until the vet and the farmer leave again. Kathy then gives him a picture of Jesus, at which point he belatedly realises why the children are so in awe of him.

At the playground, a local bully makes one of the children tell him their secret. Incredulous, the bully makes the boy deny three times that he has in fact seen Jesus Christ. Kathy, however, refuses to back down, even after he slaps her. The other children rally round her and the bully is left in doubt.

Charlie goes to the barn and finds that the kitten that he had entrusted to the stranger has died. Angry that 'Jesus' let his pet die, he decides that he can't really be Jesus, but must just be a normal man after all. Kathy tries to get the vicar to explain why Jesus might let even an animal die, but they are unconvinced by the weak pieties he offers by way of explanation, especially as he seems more concerned about the vandalism the church has recently been subjected to.

While the rapidly growing group of children wait to meet 'Jesus', the man asks Kathy to recover a package hidden in a nearby tunnel. As the manhunt intensifies, she manages to return with the package, which contains a gun.

The next day, while Charlie is celebrating his birthday with his friends, Nan inadvertently blurts out to her father that 'Jesus' is staying in their barn. The farmer quickly locks the barn while the aunt goes to call for the police. Kathy manages to reach the back of the barn and through a small window has enough time to tell the stranger that she didn't betray him, before the police come and escort her away. The man gives himself up to the police just as all the children finally descend on the farm. They all watch as he is arrested and driven away in handcuffs. Two small children arrive asking to see 'Jesus'. Kathy tells them that they've arrived too late, but that he will return some day.