Swallows and Amazons (EMI 1974, Virginia McKenna, Ronald Fraser)


Described by Variety as “delightful, charming and beautifully made,” Swallows and Amazons seems a strange follow-up to Claude Whatham’s nostalgic ’50s rock-fest That’ll Be the Day. While the latter lauded or launched stars such as David Essex, Ringo Starr and Keith Moon, this offering follows in the unlikely tradition of The Railway Children. In much the same vein, this little charmer engages both adults and children and manages that rare achievement of being a truly good and entertaining family film.

In 1929 (the film’s attention to detail is stunning), the Swallow family goes on holiday to the Lake District. There, the four young siblings meet, and develop a friendly rivalry with, two boisterous girls, the Amazons (Kit Seymour and Lesley Bennett). Against the delightful landscape the six children become increasingly involved in their childish adventures, all the while trying to escape the prohibitive eyes of adults Mrs Walker (Virginia McKenna) and Uncle Jim (Ronald Fraser).

Swallows and Amazons

UK / EMI – Theatre Projects / 92 minutes / 1974 Filmed in Eastman Color

Writer: David Wood, adapted from the book by Arthur Ransome / Producer: Richard Pilbrow / Cinematography: Denis Lewiston / Music: Wilfred Josephs / Director: Claude Whatham

Cast: Virginia McKenna, Ronald Fraser, Simon West, Sophie Neville, Zanna Hamilton, Stephen Grendon, Kit Seymour, Lesley Bennett