Friday, 13 November 2015
The Railway Children (1970)
Much like Heaven Can Wait, which I reviewed a couple of months ago, The Railway Children ended up in my collection because it came in a combo-pack with another movie that I wanted (the charmingly old-fashioned Swallows and Amazons). Also like Heaven Can Wait, this film turned out to be thoroughly entertaining in its own right.
Three children in Edwardian London grow up in pretty much the perfect household. They have a lovely house full of big fireplaces - "even a gas fire in the breakfast room" - and loving parents. Their mother "was not the sort to having boring meetings with boring ladies" and their father was "quite the most perfect" one in the world.
Which wouldn't be much of a story, really. So of course the sunny, serene life they've led to date runs aground on the shoals of poverty when their father is imprisoned on (false) charges of selling national secrets.
The children and their mother move to a small house in Yorkshire. There aren't many sources of entertainment in the village, and the children gravitate to the local railway, where they become friends with the station porter and with an elderly gentleman who passes by every day on the 9:15 train.
The kids also have various adventures, such as when they need to warn a train about a landslide that has covered the track, but the heart of the movie is their relationships with the people they meet. And a warm and gentle heart it is too. The characters in the film are pretty much all terribly decent people who do their best by others, to the point where modern audiences may well find it all a bit twee. Personally though I thought the charm of the cast - especially the always reliable Bernard Cribbins - helped it rise above that.
The Railway Children is a "nice little movie". Well worth a look if you want some wholesome entertainment for yourself or for some youngsters.