EMI Film Productions Limited
I had a heck of a time finding a DVD of this classic tale from jolly old England. The obscure part is, I somehow never saw this movie when it came out, even though we were living in British Columbia at the time. After my first viewing for this review, I can say it was very well done. Good story, quirky supporting actors and a fairly steady parade of steam engines towing an eclectic assortment of old wooden rolling stock.
The train bits were filmed in the Yorkshire region of Great Britain along the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Happily, all of the locomotives and rolling stock shown in this movie have been preserved.
It’s Christmastime in London and Master Peter (played by Gary Warren) has received a live-steam locomotive as a present (he’s mad about trains and wants to be an engine driver). Unfortunately, the tinplate steamer goes, “Poof!” in a impressive display of smoke and sparks and Peter’s father (played by Iain Cuthbertson) attempts repairs.
Without giving away too much of the plot, things go south shortly thereafter, and the children and their mum are sent packing to Yorkshire.
Beautiful shot of the family’s train in the moonlight heading north. Still in the dark, the family is rather rudely deposited at Oakworth station.
Now ensconced in a ramshackle country house (that has seen better days), the kids start to explore the countryside. Just down from their house is the rail line which they reach just as a train roars through. With nothing better to do, they walk the line down towards Oakworth.
At the depot, they encounter MY favorite character of the picture, the station porter Albert Perks (played by Bernard Cribbins). Here he hustles to clear the signal and swing closed the gates at the level crossing just in time for the express train to roar through.
Where have I seen this guy before? He seems so familiar. It wasn’t until towards the end of the movie that I realized he also played the crackpot spoon salesman, Mister Hutchison on Fawlty Towers!
Soon, the morning train’s passing is the high point of their day. As the kids wave enthusiastically, a beautiful little GWR 0-6-0PT Pannier Tank engine #5775 glides past. An elderly gentleman waves back to them from a private car.
I like this caramel-colored little engine which is labeled for the fictitious Great Northern and Southern Railway and seems to be the regular engine on this particular train.
Soon, the children are slipping messages to the old gentleman about their plight (where is father?, mum’s ill, etc.).
On another day, the kids watch as a train rolls past…then a big landslip takes out the mainline! Knowing another train is due shortly, the gals cast off their red knickers (petticoats) to flag down the express.
Great shot of the engine driver spotting the kids flagging him down.
The Railway Children are heroes! Crane shot of the festivities at Oakworth station. There’s even a band to provide appropriate oompah music. All three kids receive a gold watch commemorating their deed.
The inscription reads, “G.N. & S. R. – Miss Roberta Waterbury – Whose Courageous Action Averted a Disaster – August 13, 1905.”
Time passes. One day, the old gentleman stops for a visit to bring the children more news of the outside world. Nice interior view as he is served champagne. The kids wave goodbye.
Lots of plot left off HERE.
The children haven’t been trackside in quite a while and one sunny day decide to watch “their” train go by — for old time’s sake.
Beautiful shot of the train making its way through the countryside. But what’s this? EVERYBODY on the train is waving excitedly at them!
Shortly thereafter, a curious Bobbie visits the depot but gets only a cryptic message from Mr. Hutchison…I mean Perks. As the train prepares to depart, Bobbie has a great, “come hither” expression — could it be? Well, you’ll have to watch the movie yourself and find out what happens! ;p
And the credits roll. A very enjoyable film! I understand The Railway Children was recently (well, year 2000 anyway) remade by the Masterpiece Theatre group for TV and was very well done. Jenny Agutter even appeared as the children’s Mum.
Here’s what IMDb has to say about The Railway Children:
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