The Race is On – DVD Review

The Race is On

Last week I mentioned the new DVD from the BFI collecting together three films from the late and great Children’s Film Foundation. Today the DVD is available to buy and I have been lucky enough to receive a copy.

Despite the three films featured on The Race is On having been made over a span of 22 years there is a clear thread tying them all together and what much have been the tropes of CFF productions becomes clear. All three centre around a race of some kind (be it running, Soapbox driving, or flying) between gangs of young boys. Girls are rarely seen and when they are it is to do some sewing or talk to a doll. Adults take the roles of either bizarrely supportive, if slightly nagging, parents or scientists who must either be fought against or helped.

These are films about boys getting stuck in, building things, getting their hands dirty, and fixating on training to build up their muscles and get fit. The films have a real charm to them as the heroes are boys who make their own entertainment and are striving to succeed at something. The bad guys are bullies and bad man (prone to spontaneous bouts of kidnapping) and often find themselves falling in mud and losing out at the end of the day. It’s all a little heart-warming.

Soapbox Derby (1957) pits the plucky Battersea Bats gang against the Victoria Victors in a race of design and speed, The Sky Bike (1967) has young Tom helping a local man with his flying machine in a competition against some dishonest engineers, and cult favourite Sammy’s Super T-Shirt (1978) features a scientist who inadvertently give superpowers to Sammy after an experiment involving his T-shirt as Sammy prepares for a race.

The really don’t make ’em like the used to. Each film is charming, funny, and have been lovingly digitised. I am too young and attractive to have seen any of the films when they were first around but the DVD is a nostalgic treat for anyone who was.

The Children’s Film Foundation Collection: The Race is On [DVD] and if you fancy winning a copy there is still time to enter our competition.

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