Three young children: Kathy (Hayley Mills), Nan (Diane Holgate), and Charles (Alan Barnes) live with their widowed father on a farm. Father has little time to be with them and their days are filled with preventing farmhand Eddie killing wild animals, and generally looking terribly sweet. When they rescue three little kittens they decide to keep them in the barn but when they return to visit their new pets, they disturb a convicted murderer (Alan Bates) who is a fugitive on the run.
He's very much a man on the edge and his relief in seeing that his discoverers are children makes him exclaim "Jesus Christ". Only he does this just as the children ask who he is, leading them to believe they have the Son of God stashed away in their barn!
It's always clear that it's only a matter of time until he's caught but in the meantime the children ponder their dilemma. Given that of the three kids only Hayley Mills had ever seen a script, they all put in superb and honest performances that defy any saccharine twists in the script. And there's a fair amount of humour to keep the film from descending into mawkish drama.
Naturally the children and the audience begin to warm towards Bates who deals well with a difficult role but there's never any question that he should escape justice. And this combined with the straightforward direction crafts a touching and endearing film that could never be made today.