Swallows and Amazons (1974 film)

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Swallows and Amazons
Directed byClaude Whatham
Produced byRichard Pilbrow
Written byArthur Ransome (book)
David Wood
StarringVirginia McKenna
Ronald Fraser
Music byWilfred Josephs
Distributed byEMI Films
Release date
  • 1974 (1974)
CountryUnited Kingdom

Swallows and Amazons is a 1974 British film adaption of the 1930 novel of the same name by Arthur Ransome. The film, which was directed by Claude Whatham and produced by Richard Pilbrow, starred Virginia McKenna and Ronald Fraser, and a young Zanna Hamilton. Its budget was provided by Nat Cohen of EMI Films who had funded the successful 1970 film The Railway Children.[1]


During the school holidays, the Walker children (John, Susan, Titty and Roger) are staying at a farm near a lake in the Lake District of England. While sailing a borrowed dinghy named Swallow, they meet the Blackett children (Nancy and Peggy) who sail a dinghy named Amazon. The Walkers camp on an island in the lake while the Blacketts live in their house nearby. However, they soon realise this has been the territory of the two other girls who sail the Amazon, and the scene is set for serious rivalry. Eventually they make friends and agree to join forces against a common enemy – the Blacketts' Uncle Jim whom they call "Captain Flint" (after the character in Treasure Island). Uncle Jim, normally an ally of his nieces, has withdrawn from their company to write his memoirs and has become decidedly unfriendly.

To determine who should be the overall leader in their campaign against Captain Flint, the Blacketts and the Walkers have a contest to see which can capture the others' boat. As part of their strategy the Walkers make a dangerous crossing of the lake by night, and John is later cautioned by his mother for this reckless act. The Walkers nevertheless win the contest – thanks to Titty who seizes the Amazon when the Blacketts come to Wild Cat Island. Eventually there is a mock battle between "Captain Flint" and the children, after which Uncle Jim is tried for his crimes and forced to walk the plank on his own houseboat. They agree at the post-battle feast to be friends forever.



The film was shot on location in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria during the summer of 1973. Actual locations were used to recreate the fictional lake in Arthur Ransome's novel. In April 2010, the boat named Swallow in the film was bought by a group of enthusiasts who want to restore it to sailing condition.[2]


EMI distributed the film in the UK in 1974.

Home media[edit]

The film has been made available on video, both in VHS and DVD, in the UK, but is not readily available in the US and elsewhere.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tim Devlin. "A day in the life of Swallows and Amazons." Times [London, England] 20 June 1973: 12. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 14 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Sailing Swallow - the boat from the 1973 film". www.sailransome.org. Retrieved 22 August 2018.