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Three resourceful children save the day with their family is thrown into distress by the mysterious disappearance of their father. Based on E. Nesbit's beloved novel, first published in 1906, and starring Jenny Agutter, Michael Kitchen, and Richard Attenborough.
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Jenny Agutter stars as the mother in this Masterpiece Theater remake of the beloved 1970 Lionel Jeffries film of the same name, in which she played the oldest daughter. This time that role is played by Jemima Rooper, whose face perfectly captures the conflict between her girlhood of railway adventures and her adulthood, in which she comes to understand far more about the disappearance of her father than her younger siblings do. This early 20th-century story based on Edith Nesbit's novel is set in motion when the children's father is taken off in the night from their London home and the family moves to the country in reduced circumstances. The trio take to waving at passing trains for amusement and wind up preventing a derailment, reuniting a Russian prison escapee with his family, and rescuing a schoolboy injured in a tunnel. A couple of their heroics are accomplished with the assistance of a jovial-looking gentleman (Richard Attenborough), who waves to them from the rear car. He turns out to be the owner of the railroad and helps Rooper's character clear her father of a false treason conviction. Agutter does well as the proper British mum with a heart, but this is clearly Rooper's picture. The movie itself is 97 minutes with a few minutes tacked on at the beginning and end for Russell Baker's customary commentary and historical context. --Kimberly Heinrichs
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