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

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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).

production details
UK | EMI – Theatre Projects | 92 minutes | 1974

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 as Mrs. Walker
Ronald Fraser as Uncle Jim
Brenda Bruce as Mrs Dixon
Suzanna Hamilton as Susan Walker
Simon West as John Walker
Sophie Neville as Titty Walker
Stephen Grendon as Roger Walker
Kit Seymour as Nancy Blackett
Lesley Bennett as Peggy Blackett
Mike Pratt as Mr Dixon
John Franklyn-Robbins as Young Billy
Jack Woolgar as Old Billy
David Blagden as Policeman

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