Two original albums, digitally re-mastered to make a 2-CD set featuring Johnny Douglas and his orchestra playing music from the motion picture and Lionel Jeffries narrating the story with extracts of dialogue and theme music from the film. The result is an enchanting double album that will delight both adults and children.
The Railway Children Story
The story of the making of The Railway Children started when Lionel Jeffries was sailing in the Queen Elizabeth with his family to New York. During the voyage his daughter Martha had been reading The Railway Children and said "Daddy, this is a lovely thing. This should be made into a film shouldn't it?" Lionel immediately read the book, agreed with Martha and started writing a screenplay, which was ultimately accepted by EMI Film Productions. It was decided that the picture should be shot almost entirely on location. Because the beginning of the story involved a comparatively short sequence in the family's London house, an empty house in Hampstead, London was decorated and furnished in the Victorian style and the cameras were set up there.
The chief action in the story takes place in the little cottage 'Three Chimneys' and by the railway. Producer Robert Lynn surveyed many places and was able to secure the stretch of line privately operated by the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, which runs from Keighley to Oxenhope. This line, together with the special steam engines and rolling stock of the period, was extensively used in the making of the picture. To obtain the right railway sounds, Robert Lynn hired the services of a great enthusiast, Peter Handford, as Yorkshire location sound mixer. Actual filming on the railway was particularly tricky because of the necessary re-takes. A railway engine and train cannot be turned around like an actor. It needs a turn-table to effect this. So the shooting schedule for this part of the film was finely detailed by production manager David Griffith.
Another important sequence in the picture concerns a landslide on to the railway track. Immense trouble was taken to make sure that this should be absolutely realistic. A big branch across the rails would not be good enough - it was determined that there should be a real landslide and special engineers were hired to ensure this.
Much of the incomparable Bronte country of the West Riding of Yorkshire appears in all its splendour in the film and one sequence was shot in the Vicarage at Howarth where the Bronte sisters wrote their memorable prose. In every respect, perfection was the aim in each department of the making of The Railway Children, a delightful film that would offend no one and please many millions. This double album will delight both adults and children alike.
Johnny Douglas with Lionel Jeffries
Quotes from Johnny Douglas when interviewed about The Railway Children.
"I couldn't believe my luck when Robert Lynn approached me". "Some years previously I'd composed music for a film he'd made called 'Victim Five'. He liked my work and he remembered me".
"The really wonderful thing about it was that I had been called in from the start. I first read the script and got the feel of the subject. Then Lionel called me in and I knew from the outset that we were going to produce something very special".
"My main theme for the film is called 'More Than Ever Now' which is what I'd call a good melody - the type of thing which everyone will be humming; something easy on the ear, easy to remember. Catchy, you might say".
"What was so helpful to me was the fact that Lionel knew exactly what he wanted. In my very varied experience in all types of music I've found that when someone is able to explain just what he wants I'm able to give them what they want".
www.iknow-yorkshire.co.uk has information on Oakworth Station, Haworth, the location of The Railway Children film, as well as listing Yorkshire hotels, B&B's and holiday cottages.
IN TUNE - January 2007
JOURNAL INTO MELODY - March 2006
The 1970 film of E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children is acknowledged as being one of the finest children’s films ever made. Although it paid remarkable attention to period detail, shot entirely on location, its score by Douglas was deliberately contemporary; consistently tuneful, atmospheric 1970s light orchestral music. The film was noted for its romantic style without wallowing in sentiment, and the music is such. This two-disc set is a well-produced reissue of two EMI LPs, both in stereo; one a selection of music from the film, the other taken directly from the soundtrack with additional narration by director Lionel Jeffries.
IN TUNE - February 2006
The late Johnny Douglas was one of Britain’s most admired composer-arrangers and conductors. I am delighted to welcome this CD presentation in a two disc set of the music he composed and conducted for the film “THE RAILWAY CHILDREN”. The outstanding music score occupies the first CD while on the second is a beautifully crafted version of the soundtrack narrated by the film’s director, Lionel Jeffries. This audio production with excerpts of dialogue and action from the film was originally issued on a Music For Pleasure LP (MFP 1430) in 1971. Johnny’s film score had an LP release (SCX6446) in 1970. Douglas was a supreme melodist and his skill as a writer capable of capturing any dramatic mood in musical terms is demonstrated to perfection in a charming, tuneful score. Using top musicians the orchestra’s performance is very impressive as is the stereo sound quality.
The “story CD2" will delight young and old and for this particular “youngster at heart” it provided an entertaining 45 minutes long yarn one wintry afternoon. The music is another reminder from Dulcima Records of the fine Johnny Douglas recorded legacy.
JOURNAL INTO MELODY - December 2005
Johnny Douglas was truly inspired when he composed the music for this magical film in 1970. Everything about the movie was just right – the cast, the scenery and, of course, the music. This new release offers again two LPs: firstly the Johnny Douglas Orchestra playing his themes from the film (on EMI’s Columbia label), and secondly Lionel Jeffries introducing soundtrack excerpts (originally on Music for Pleasure). Johnny’s memorable main theme will be familiar to many, but this CD reveals that this was only one of several pleasing melodies created for the various characters. As a bonus the final track on CD1 is the vocal version of the main theme, retitled More than Ever Now and sung by Vince Hill. Hugely enjoyable!
musicfromthemovies.com review by Mike Beek
Films don’t get more quintessentially English than The Railway Children. Lionel Jeffries’ very faithful 1970 film adaptation of E. Nesbit’s famed children’s novel remains a firm favourite in the hearts of many. Jenny Agutter starred as the eldest of three children whose Father mysteriously disappears, leaving them and their Mother penniless and homeless. Moving from London to Yorkshire, the children discover that the railway line close to their new home is not just a passage for trains, but a location for endless drama, where they make new friends and embark on many adventures.
Providing the music for this classic British film was the late Johnny Douglas, a composer whose very busy career is highlighted by this little gem. Performed by ‘The Johnny Douglas Orchestra’, the composer created an airy, melodic score filled with charm and warmth. Following the sounds of the railway (which buffer each cue) ‘The Railway Children Overture’ opens this delightful album, beginning a short but sweet musical adventure that will leave you dreaming of harmless fun in the English countryside where you’ll be home in time for tea. This is a score absolutely of its time, so to some it might sound dated. However, it’s a glorious snapshot of the Johnny Douglas sound, a sound that lies somewhere between Henry Mancini (evident in the cue ‘The Robbers’) and the Sherman Brothers (‘The Birthday Waltz’). His themes are laced with warm strings, kitsch percussion and a healthy dollop of schmaltz that serves to sweeten the palette, while the melodies are carefree and the orchestrations lovingly conceived. A favourite moment comes in ‘The Paper Chase’, with the motion and rhythm played out in the busy strings and a great spirit of adventure resounding in the brass. A further highlight of the line-up is ‘Perks Must Be About’. Mr. Perks was played by the inimitable Bernard Cribbins and the music has just a touch of ‘Any Old Iron’ about it, decorated with the sounds of whistles and hooters; all good fun and endlessly entertaining.
Joining the original soundtrack is a second disc featuring the story of The Railway Children, read by director Lionel Jeffries (Jeffries is perhaps better known as an actor, most famously playing the grandfather in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Joining the actor’s honey-coated tones are soundtrack and dialogue elements from the film and Douglas’ score. It’s a lovely addition to the album and perfect listening for a rainy Sunday afternoon. That of course goes for the whole album, which is entirely enjoyable and completely inoffensive, like the film itself. The Railway Children is a wonderful representation of the legacy left by Johnny Douglas, a composer whose name isn’t widely known, but one whose music is full of character and spirit.
Reviewed by: Mike Beek
A MOVIE SOUNDTRACK TO TREASURE
The Johnny Douglas score for the film "The Railway Children", is one of the most charming and heartfelt soundtracks of recent years. It's beauty is it's simplicity. It captures the time and place, and above all, the love of family in every note. I've seen this movie numerous times now. The first with with my three children when it was originally released. From the very first scene, a sense of civility and warmth seems to emanate from the screen, helped in no small measure by the music. Johnny Douglas was obviously a fan of "The Railway Children". How else can one explain his wonderfully accurate sense of melody and mood. If you have young children, and you haven't rented or purchased "The Railway Children" for family viewing, please do so. It's never less than enchanting for young.....and old. I'll bet you'll want to follow that up by buying the original soundtrack CD. And, as an extra treat, on Disc 2, you'll enjoy portions of the book narrated by the film's Director Lionel Jeffries. You'll also enjoy the endearing... and enduring music of the great Johnny Douglas.
Phil Stout - USA
AMAZON REVIEW - September 2006 *****