Heard of BFI Player? Well, there’s also BFI Player+, a subscription service that offers an all-you-can-eat selection of hand-picked classics.
Every Friday, Mark Kermode highlights one of the collection’s titles with a video introduction. This week, it’s The Railway Children. The adaptation of E. Nesbit’s 1906 novel sees three children and their mother forced to swap Edwardian city luxury for genteel rural poverty up north. The nearby railway gives them something to take an interest in – a source of adventure and new friends – and their can-do cheerfulness only occasionally cracks.
This is a film whose warm sympathy for its central characters doesn’t preclude frequent touches of dry wit, in dialogue and direction, says Kermode. A genuinely charming film for all ages, The Railway Children fully deserves its classic status.
What else is new? Here are the latest titles on BFI Player+ this week:
The 39 Steps
The very definition of classic. Hitchcock’s 1935 thriller, which goes from London to the Forth Bridge and back again, takes in everything from spies to handcuffs. Shackled together for the duration, Robert Donat’s Hannay sets the template for Hitch’s wrong-man-on-the-run, while Madeleine Carroll’s sniping love interest adds a fun comic touch. The low-key climax may not be the Big Ben-straddling stunt of the 1978 remake, but this is cracking, tense stuff.
The Black Panther
Ian Merrick’s 1977 crime drama charts the killing spree which Donald Neilson, aka the Black Panther, perpetrated across England during the mid-70s.
For Those in Peril
A heartbreakingly good George MacKay plays Aaron, a young boy in a small Scottish village who went out on a fishing voyage with four other men, including his older brother. He was the only one to make it back alive. He’s struggling to find peace in the wild confusion of his loss – and so is everyone else. Read our full review.
By Our Selves
Years after travelling in a swan-shaped pedalo, Andrew Kotting and Iain Sinclair reunite to follow in the footsteps of poet John Clare, who once trekked from Epping to Northampton back in 1841 to reach a woman he loved. A mix of lyrical greyscale images, strange, disorienting experiences and flashes of modern-day behind-the-scenes moments, the result is an intriguing curio for English students or Kötting fans and an obtuse oddity for most others.
A BFI Player+ subscription costs £4.99 a month with a 30-day free trial. For more information, visit http://player.bfi.org.uk.