BFI Film (studio)
507 min (length)
22 October 2018 (released)
03 November 2018
This is a special treat for children and the young at heart! On 3 DVDs, nine carefully selected films from the Children’s Film Foundation, plus very generous Bonus material, will delight anyone interested in vintage cinema entertainment for kids of all ages, though it is fair to say that most of these films come across as incredibly harmless and quaint compared to nowadays standards. All the more reason to indulge in this charming trip down memory lane!
Disc 1 starts with the hilarious slapstick farce PERIL FOR THE GUY (1956) in which a group of kids (Kim, Pat, Freddy and Ali) are preparing an effigy for Bonfire Night when Ali accidentally sets things on fire. Now he’s offering to make amends for his clumsiness by posing as a live effigy complete with white beard (Ali is a black kid) while his friends wheel him about town and knocking on people’s doors asking for pennies so that they can buy new fireworks. Through sheer coincidence and unwillingly they get involved in the kidnapping of a scientist and his secret formula… and now our little heroes feel obliged to come to the rescue seeing how said scientist gave them a generous donation for their firecrackers. Plenty of slapstick action and all round good fun!
Football fans will get their kicks (no pun intended) from watching CUP FEVER (1965) about two rival teenage football teams in Manchester – with one team sabotaging the other just before kick-off by cutting off the studs on the outsole of their football shoes – now that’s a mean thing to do! The film features early appearances by future stars such as Olivia Hussey, Susan George, Amanda Coxell, Denis Gilmore and Frazer Hines (who went on to star in Dr. Who (1966-69) in which he appeared alongside Second Doctor Patrick Troughton as 18th Century Scot Jamie McCrimmon. And watch out for cameos by George Best and Bobby Charlton!
MR. HORATIO KNIBBLES (1970) is a charmingly old-fashioned fantasy tale about young Mary Bunting and mischievous friend Mr. Knibbles – a giant rabbit that only Mary can see. But will her parents and her friends believe her wild stories?
Disc 2 offers ANOOP THE ELEPHANT (1972) – another story about an animal in a zoo (this time a baby elephant called Ranee, played by Bella) though Ranee doesn’t exactly get pinched but is up for getting transported to be with her new owners. Little Anoop (Anoop Singh) and his friends leave no stone unturned to sabotage such evil plans by taking Ranee out of her transportation trailer and instead putting a donkey inside. Now all they have to do is hide Ranee, and what better place than farmland and fields on which some holidaying schoolchildren and their dorky teachers have set up camp. All’s set for a slice of entertaining nonsense and watch out for early appearances by Linda Robson (BIRDS OF A FEATHER) and Phil Daniels (QUADROPHENIA).
Let’s stay in the zoo for the barmy and surreal THE ZOO ROBBERY (1973), in which Yen-Yen, the ice-cream loving Yeti (yes you read that right!) gets kidnapped by thugs. And now it’s up to a gang of kids who specialise in ‘crime watch’ along the Regency Canal, to save the day and indeed Yen-Yen in this caper in which the baddies end up with a good beating – and Yen-Yen ends up somewhat of a celebrity!
Rounding up Disc 2 is THE BATTLE FOR BILLY’S POND (1976) in which young Billy Bateson and mate Gobby become early eco-warriors when they discover that their local pond is being poisoned by toxic waste – courtesy of a nearby corporation producing a new washing detergent. Mind you, the dinner prepared by Mrs. Bateson looks more toxic: burnt sausages, a miserly fried egg and heaps of baked beans. Just where did this goddess of English haute cuisine learn to cook? Yikes! A very young Linda Robson returns in another small part and other future stars include Miriam Margoyles. A well-intended film with a moral message!
Disc 3 starts with the nail-biter (well, of sorts) ONE HOUR TO ZERO (1976) in which troubled youngster Paul (Toby Bridge) runs away from home precisely at the time when all the other locals have been evacuated due to an imminent nuclear disaster. Can Paul’s well-meaning buddy Steve (Andrew Ashby) convince his mate to return to his worried dad who, by the way, is employed at the nuclear power station? Well, almost… because escaped thief Mike Ellis (Dudley Sutton) makes full use of the deserted village by helping himself to plenty of money from a local store and now threatens the kids with nasty things to come should they have the nerve to raise the alarm. A chase (and a race!) against time across the rugged mountains of North Wales begins.
In the crime caper 4D SPECIAL AGENTS (1981) a gang of bumbling jewellery thieves find themselves chased by a gang of righteous and crime-solving kids called ‘4D Special Agents’ though one of the kids, Steve Fraser (Dexter Fletcher), turns out not to be so righteous after all as he helps himself to some of the loot… Cue for a wild chase along London’s canals where everyone seems to chase everyone in this entertaining caper (police helicopters and all).
The final film, POP PIRATES (1984) is set in Brighton and charters the musical adventures of fictional kid’s reggae band The Pirates and their ambitious efforts to win a music talent show hosted by none other than Roger Daltrey on Brighton’s Palace Pier. But a rival band and a disgruntled ex-member of The Pirates try hard to scupper the dreams of our musical heroes! Sixties soul star PP Arnold also makes an appearance as Daltrey’s assistant but sadly she has no lines.
This Bumper Box is more than just a slice of nostalgia and a showcase for budding acting talent – more than anything it depicts a Great Britain long gone.