Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Alan Wheatley, Howard Marion-Crawford, John Stockbridge (narrators), etc.
Written by: James Ritchie, Paul Le Saux, etc.
Directed by: James Ritchie, Tony Thompson, R.K. Neilson-Baxter, etc.
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 247
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

On and Off the Rails (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

On Track

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Here's a DVD that's almost bizarre, but quaint at the same time. Apparently the British Transport Commission established its own film studio in 1948 and began producing little documentaries about its trains. (Imagine other companies, like a law firm or a library, with its own film studio!) Kino's two-disc set collects 14 such films ranging from 7 to 28 minutes, and produced between 1951 and 1980. It sounds dull, but the films are surprisingly wonderful, relaxing and even beautiful at times, more so if you're a train nut. I've been watching them with my 16-month old son, and we're both enjoying them. I spotted the name of composer Muir Mathieson (Brief Encounter, Vertigo) in the credits of the first film, Blue Pullman (1960); who knows how many other talents came up through these ranks? (Sadly, though the DVD package lists the titles, years and running times of the films, it doesn't include any other credits.) The BFI has collected and restored the films and Kino Video has released them on DVD for the American audience.

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