Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Whistle Down the Wind

I thought it worth giving more prominence to this comment by Stan in response to the Where I’m At post:

I looked after the remastering of Whistle Down The Wind about 5 years ago and usually we have to transfer full frame in 16:9 for broadcasters but because this was specifically for a DVD release, we were permitted to transfer in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with the sides slightly blanked (in 16:9) – I think it’s always much nicer to see features in the exact ratio they were shot. We transferred from the original negative and, with a bit of after treatment, I was quite pleased with the results. The DVD is still available and has a commentary by Hayley Mills – Play.com have it at £5.99 (a bargain).

Fascinating stuff! I have this, though I haven’t actually watched it – I bought it to replace the disc that my daughter’s drama teacher borrowed for a school production of WDTW, and which I never… well, fill in the blanks. Suffice it to say that I didn’t want to be without a copy.

(My record on upgrades and replacements is held by Jason and the Argonauts… from Standard 8 silent to Super 8 sound to a sharper, American-sourced Super 8 print; then VHS, then DVD, and then a replacement DVD when… well, it wasn’t a teacher, this time. But if ever there was a film that I’d like to see given a top-level HD makeover…)

I hadn’t realised that she was doing me a favour. I assumed that the new disc was a repackage, not a complete new transfer; the fact that it was bundled in a boxed set with Tiger Bay and a disc of John Mills’ home movies, all for about a tenner, kept my expectations in check.

That school production, by the way, wasn’t of the overblown and Americanised Jim Steinman musical, but of an earlier musical adaptation by Russell Labey and Richard Taylor that preserves the tone and setting of the Waterhouse/Hall screenplay.

My kid played Cathy. I’ve said it before… my universe has meaning.

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3 responses to “Whistle Down the Wind”

  1. If your DVD is 16:9, then it’s definately the new version which was transferred along with ‘Tiger Bay’ (the DVD for this also has a little making-of featurette, filmed at the time, that I found by accident while scouting out mastering materials). Too many coincidences at the moment – I hadn’t realised that ‘Whistle’ was written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall but I’m just working my way through the second series of ‘Budgie’ on DVD…and remembered they were also written by Waterhouse and Hall!

  2. Yep, I’ve checked. The right packaging, and a Hayley Mills commentary. On my shelf all this time. Who knew?

    Last time I was in Downham village, the local post office had a small display of clippings relating to the film and its locations (Downham features most prominently in the scene where the Salvation Army band plays by the river). I’ve spied out a few of the setups, but I’ve never located the farm with any certainty.

  3. What I find strange is that both the ‘Whistle’ and ‘Tiger’ DVD covers have colour photos on them (for black and white features). Not that digging out colour publicity is wrong but seeing as they’re both monochrome you’d think the cover would reflect it. I wonder how many people thought they were getting colour films? Just a quick note on ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ – I saw some bits of film restoration from a laboratory in New York who were working with Harryhausen so I would think an HD transfer should be on the cards. Maybe soon time to upgrade again…