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The Railway Children (1970)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 2,349 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 15 critic

After the enforced absence of their father, three children move with their mother to Yorkshire, where during their adventures they attempt to discover the reason for his disappearance.

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(celebrated novel), (screenplay)
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Title: The Railway Children (1970)

The Railway Children (1970) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Director: Lionel Jeffries
Stars: Laurence Naismith, Graham Crowden, Dorothy Alison
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Mrs. Waterbury (as Miss Dinah Sheridan)
...
Albert Perks (as Mr. Bernard Cribbins)
William Mervyn ...
Old Gentleman (as Mr. William Mervyn)
Iain Cuthbertson ...
Charles Waterbury (as Mr. Iain Cuthbertson)
...
Roberta 'Bobbie' Waterbury (as Miss Jenny Agutter)
Sally Thomsett ...
Phyllis Waterbury (as Miss Sally Thomsett)
Gary Warren ...
Peter Waterbury (as Master Gary Warren)
Peter Bromilow ...
Doctor
Ann Lancaster ...
Ruth
Gordon Whiting ...
Russian
Beatrix Mackey ...
Deddie Davies ...
David Lodge ...
Bandmaster
Christopher Witty ...
Jim
Brenda Cowling ...
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Storyline

The film opens in a happy, comfortable upper middle-class home in Edwardian London. One night in 1905, the three children see their father usher two strangers into his study. After an argument he leaves with them and does not return. They and their mother fall on hard times and eventually move to a cottage in the country. Yet they keep their spirits up and find ways to help others. Fascinated by the nearby railway, they wave to the passengers faithfully every day, and their vigilance and courage prevent an accident. Their kindness makes friends of some important people who can help solve the mystery of their missing father. Written by Paul Emmons <pemmons@wcupa.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What's the unexpected secret that turns their world upside down? See more »

Genres:

Family | Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 December 1971 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Aseman lapset  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the vintage locomotives used in the film are still surviving today. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the film as the children go through the gate into the field a tree "falls over" the stone wall on the right hand side of the picture. See more »

Quotes

Bobbie Waterbury: There's going to be a paperchase tomorrow.
Phyllis Waterbury: Whippee!
Bobbie Waterbury: The boys from the grammar school are doing it.
Phyllis Waterbury: Zippee!
Bobbie Waterbury: Perks says we can go by the ramp.
Phyllis Waterbury: What's a paperchase?
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the end credit captions are displayed the shot tracks towards a steam locomotive, in front of which are gathered the principal cast. They are surrounded by extras portraying local townspeople, who wave and say goodbye to the audience. All the while, Jenny Agutter is preoccupied with writing something on a slate. As the camera reaches her, she holds it up to display the words "The End". See more »

Connections

Featured in The 100 Greatest Family Films (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Pretty Polly Perkins of Paddington Green
(uncredited)
Written by Harry Clifton
Performed by Perks at the birthday party
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Still a Movie Miracle!!!
19 January 2001 | by (New England) – See all my reviews

Once in a great while, a perfect film comes along. Thirty years later, this is still one. Rarely has a children's book been brought to life in such a stunning way. With Jeffrie's gentle direction and the enchanting charisma of Agutter, Thomsett and Warren, this is required viewing for all film lovers.

Although the story is old and the setting even older, this is a wholly modern film, using innovative techniques such as quick cutting, point-of-view camerawork, dramatic freeze-frame, exquisite telephoto landscape, and overlapping dialogue, in ways highly effective and virtually experimental.

In illustrating the mercurial, life-changing machinations of fickle fate, director Jeffries conveys Victorian England as a vital, dynamic place, in which our hero-children must eschew their passive upbringing and become pro-active to survive, challenging head-on what amounts to an all-out political conspiracy and an earth-shaking cultural revolution, albeit played out in the guise of a generational turf war.

The kids learn that tragedy and upheaval can either be death, or an empowering new beginning, depending on your attitude, and fortitude. Adults are, by and large, either long-suffering martyrs or dangerous creeps. Kids, on the other hand, are bright, vital, essential to evolution.

The promise of the ever-expanding future, symbolized by the lovely railroad trains that barrel by the kids' back yard, gives the kids firstly hope, then inspiration towards retrieving their persecuted father, and restoring familial balance and harmony. And forgive me, but seeing little Jenny stopping a ten-ton train with her little red flag, and then fainting dead away, is one of the most excruciatingly sexual moments in all cinema.

The children are incredible. The lovely Jenny Agutter, of course, went on to an absolutely fabulous career. The toothy Sally Thomsett had some rough times after this film, before she went on to TV fame as one of the caustic bimbos in "Man About the House" the British sitcom that inspired our own "Three's Company". And little Gary Warren? Who knows?

Lionel Jeffries has had a long, distinguished career both as actor and director (although his follow-up film, THE AMAZING MR. BLUNDEN, went nowhere. Too bad; it's also delightful).

The Johnny Douglas score, released also on a now-rare soundtrack LP, is exceptional. The theme song, "More Than Ever Now", even made a splash in the US as a Top 100 hit for Al Martino!

The parting shot is all-powerful, beautifully showing that faith begets magic, which begets community, which begets progress and reunion and happiness. Wow, what a film: Britflicks rule!


13 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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