The Railway Children (1970)

In this evergreen adaptation of E. Nesbit’s 1906 novel, three children and their mother are forced to swap Edwardian city luxury for genteel rural poverty up north.
“For all its conventional Edwardian view of the world and the family, the story is also specifically grounded in the political and social realities of its time.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 2005 When their beloved father is mysteriously taken away, the Waterbury children have to move to the country, where – marshalled by sensible and sensitive big sister Bobbie (Jenny Agutter) – they make the best of the change. The nearby railway gives them something to take an interest in – a source of adventure and new friends – and their can-do cheerfulness only occasionally cracks. When it does, the effect can bring moisture to the eyes of even (or perhaps especially) grown-up viewers. This is a film whose warm sympathy for its central characters doesn’t preclude frequent touches of dry wit, in dialogue and direction. A genuinely charming film for all ages, The Railway Children fully deserves its classic status. Jenny Agutter had previously played Bobbie in the BBC’s 1968 serial, and went on to play Mother in a 2000 adaptation for ITV.
1970 United Kingdom
Directed by
Lionel Jeffries
Produced by
Robert Lynn
Written by
Lionel Jeffries
Dinah Sheridan, Bernard Cribbins, William Mervyn
Running time
108 minutes