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The Railway Children (1970)

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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 2,367 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 13 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.



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

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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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 ...
Ann Lancaster ...
Gordon Whiting ...
Beatrix Mackey ...
Deddie Davies ...
David Lodge ...
Christopher Witty ...
Brenda Cowling ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Family | Drama


G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 January 1971 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Aseman lapset  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Iain Cuthbertson replaced Alan Cuthbertson. See more »


The rail-level shot of the train approaching the children in the 'landslide sequence' is a different location to the remainder of the scene, having been shot at the northern portal of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway's Mytholmes Tunnel, with the parapets of Mytholmes viaduct visible in the middle-distance - the remainder of the scene was filmed several hundred yards further along the line in visibly different surroundings. See more »


Phyllis Waterbury: I O N. There; 'Look out at the station'.
Bobbie Waterbury: One of your finest works, Michaelangelo.
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 »


Featured in Beautiful People (1999) See more »


The Man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo
Written by Fred Gilbert
Performed by Cook and the children
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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