29 April 2007 | Doylenf
Touching drama from an A.J. Cronin novel...
DIRK BOGARDE gives one of his more restrained performances in the title role, a man whose friendship with a young boy (JON WHITELEY) drives a wedge between the boy and his over-protective father (MICHAEL HORDERN). It's the interplay between these three characters that drives the story and there are some melodramatic events before the happy ending.
But it takes its time in developing the characterizations, sags in the middle and then picks up again during the last half-hour when all the melodramatic conflicts have to be resolved.
Unfortunately, the TCM print shows murky color photography (especially after showing a dazzling print of BLACK NARCISSUS). Whether the film was shot in a process other than the usual British color I don't know, but the color photography was sometimes less than satisfying.
The story is one of friendship that the boy so badly needs when his father has too little time to share many activities with him. The bond between him and the Spanish gardener is based on mutual trust and the boy comes to hate his father when he realizes that he's been the cause of the man being jailed for a crime he didn't commit.
JON WHITELEY gives a remarkably natural performance for a child actor and his scenes with DIRK BOGARDE and MICHAEL HORDERN are excellently played.
There are problems of pacing that plague some parts of the film, but the last half is particularly absorbing and leads to a satisfying conclusion. Well worth watching.