The Railway Children (1970)


Phillis, try to imagine it like an adventure, all sorts of things may happen!

Before I begin my newest blog post, I would firstly like to apologise for the lack of blog postings recently. This past month has been a lot busier than expected and I have not had much time to write. However, I am allocating some time aside  everyday to work on my blog.

Lionel Geoffreys directed the beautiful film based on the novel by E Nesbitt about three children , Roberta’Bobby'(played by the young Jenny Agutter), Phyllis (Sally Thomsett), and Peter (Gary Warren). They are forced to move to the country from their villa with their mother (Dinah Sheridan) after their father (Ian Anderson ) is wrongly accused of selling state secrets to the Russians.

The house the children and their mother move to is by a railway (hence the title). Bobby, Phillis and Peter amuse themselves by watching the trains go by and waving to the passengers. They make lots of  new friends including  Mr Perks (Bernard Cribbins), the station porter and the old gentleman (William Melvyn), who takes the 9.15 train every day. Their mother meanwhile, in her husbands absence writes and sells stories  for magazines.

On a quick aside, a great family story on my dads side of the family is that when my Grandmother (dads mum) was starting out as a doctor in the 50s and 60s, for extra income she would write articles for magazines. Amazing!

Anyways, the three children’s adventures continue, such as the iconic scene when they rescue dozens of passengers by alerting them to a landslide; rescuing the old gentleman’s grandson and reuniting a Russian named Szczepansky with his family. At the end, Roberta finds out the truth about her father’s absence and appeals to the old gentleman to prove their father’s innocence. There is the tearjerking ‘Daddy, my daddy’ scene as Bobby runs to  her father at the station and they return to the house. The film is also clever as it breaks the fourth wall when all the cast members are waving goodbye to the audience as the credits roll, and when Bobby writes ‘goodbye’ on a slate.

The book was one of my favourites growing up and the film is just quisentially British. My mum watched this growing up and I have fond memories of watching it with my sisters when we were girls. There’s a wonderful cast and beautiful scenery. My boyfriend Edd is a railway enthusiast so I’m sure if  we re-watched  this he would analyse the trains and their accuracy! A particularly sweet scene is when Phillis gives Bobbie a ribbon and tells her to get ready but doesn’t tell her what for. Bobbie comes into the main room and to her surprise everyone she has made friends with in the country is there to wish her Happy Birthday. The camera pans around the guests  in a dreamlike motion as she receives presents and gives her thanks. Bobby hugs her mother, overwhelmed with happiness and whispers ‘Wouldn’t Daddy have loved this.’ Tears flowing right there.

A generally beautiful piece of British cinema. ITV did a TV mini series  of The Railway Children in 2000 which in my opinion was no way near as good (Jenny Agutter playing the mother was the main benefit).

My rating: 5/5

Daddy my Daddy!


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