GB / US / CAN
Dir: Britt Allcroft
Starring: Peter Fonda and Mara Wilson
Thomas the Tank Engine’s railway is threatened by an evil diesel
The Reverend W. V. Awdry’s famous stories had already been adapted into a very popular and hugely successful television series and it was inevitable that they would, eventually, get the big-screen treatment. The result, however, was a transatlantic mish-mash incorporating characters from the US series Shining Time Station. The unfamiliarity of the US series to the British critics may have led to the unduly harsh reception in the UK, but the story bore little resemblance to any of Awdry’s stories, and only half of the original ‘characters’ from the books appear in the film. Joined by a number of ‘modern’ intruders it is all a bit of a mess really and it is easy to see why a sequel to this first film was quietly cancelled in its early stages. Given all this, it is perhaps a little surprising to find that the Isle of Man Railway plays a part in the film. Castletown station stands in for ‘Shining Time’ station in a number of scenes throughout the movie, though it is not instantly recognisable as such, and part of the rather inconsistent plot centres on the magical lost engine called Lady, which is kept under lock and key by Burnett Stone (played by the overly depressed Peter Fonda). Although Lady was nothing more than an elaborate mock-up, Burnett Stone’s workshop was real. It was the goods shed at Port St Mary.