Children's Film Foundation: Bumper Box Volume 4
R0 - United Kingdom - British Film Institute
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (10th April 2023).
The Film

The Children's Film Foundation: Bumper Box Volume 4

The Children's Film Foundation was an English non-profit established in 1951 which produced feature films, serials, and short films specifically for a younger audience for Saturday matinees. Feature films were just under an hour in length, and would feature children in the leads in moral tales with capers, action, humor, and silliness that usually placed emphasis on how adults were usually blindsided by issues that kids saw more clearly. From issues like abuse, environmental concerns, family values, and much more, there was a lot of variety to be had with differing directors, actors, and other crew participating in the fairly low budget quickies that would give an equal amount of smiles and groans to different kids. The productions would feature works that could appeal to both boys and girls, with fun sequences like chases and silly humor to hit the funny bones of young ones, but the juvenile nature and predictable nature were also a detractor for others. These works were not made to be of high artistic standards with special quality, with many of the child actors having little to no training with acting and the adults sometimes acting like bumbling dumbfounded characters. Yet with limitations came some creativity in the cracks, with even some notable crew working on the productions, some that would later produce major award winning works in their future careers, and some established people that came to work on CFF productions later on. While the 1950s and 1960s saw a great number of works from CFF, things started to change in the 1970s and 1980s with television becoming the medium of choice for children to receive their visual entertainment on Saturday mornings. With lower budgets and fewer productions over the decades, their final production came in 1988. The foundation itself has remained, now named the Children's Media Foundation and helping with funding for media based educational productions and more. Their collection of works over the decades has been archived by the BFI National Archive, and in the new millennium they have been releasing a number of their features and shorts in a number of collections on DVD. This is the fourth release in the "Bumper Box" series, which collects nine films from throughout the foundation's filmmaking period. There is no specific theme for the "Bumper Box" collections, with nine select feature films and additional shorts compiled in one set.

"The Dog and the Diamonds" (1953)

Jimmy (played by Michael McGuire), Peter (played by Robert Sandford), Ginger (played by Robert Scroggins), Helen (played by Barbara Brown), and Linda (played by Molly Osborne) are a group of young kids living in a neighborhood complex, each wanting to keep a pet in their homes, which is forbidden by community rules. Instead, they keep their pets, which range from a dog to a frog in a nearby abandoned manor where they will be safe from suspicious welfare patrolmen during collection periods. Little do they know the location is also being used by a group of diamond thieves on the run.

The 1953 short is a snapshot of the postwar era of Britain, a time in which there were remnants of the ravages of war with underdeveloped neighborhoods, government funded welfare projects, and inadequate areas for children to play. The situation was also mirrored in 2022's excellent film "Living", which its story took place in 1953. As a common theme in CFF features, the children are the ones that are able to work together and come up with ideas to work around the adults, which are not the most adept or focused. Patrolmen Mr. Gayford Geoffrey Sumner and Mr. Plumpton (played by Brian Oulton are quite oblivious to the antics of the children, and the thieves are not much smarter either. While the children's performances aren't exactly the greatest, the acting from the character driven and exaggerated adults, as well as the performances by the animals that shine bright in this film, which was interestingly directed by Ralph Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers, of the "Carry On" film series. As with all other CFF features, it doesn't waste time with intricate plot points or deep characterizations, and makes sure to get to each point quickly at a whimsical pace, and in those terms it flows quite well. The weakest point may be that they gave memorable characterizations with the supporting adult characters while the main children are basically just average children that were interchangeable. This wouldn't be the last time a CFF feature would have pets in a plot device or with con artists. There would be much more to come in later years.

"The Stolen Airliner" (1955)

Fred (played by Fella Edmunds) and John (played by Michael Maguire) are brought to an airfield by their Royal Air Force officer uncle George (played by Peter Dyneley), where they meet Mr. Head (played by Ballard Berkeley and his young daughter Anne (played by Diana Day). The adults are taking care of a diplomatic issue with delegates from the country of Francovinia, who are interested in buying a Z09 aircraft. But the children overhear from the supposed delegates that they had kidnapped the real delegates and plan to steal the aircraft. The adults don't believe the young ones, which leads to the children to take the con men down with their skills and intuitions.

Directed and co-written by Don Sharp in his first feature as a director and would later make quite a name at Hammer Studios, here is a solid CFF feature with all the right elements. The three main children do an excellent job with their characters, giving personality to each, while also being able to show off their intelligence with geography and outsmarting the bad guys, and this even includes jeep driving and parachuting in an exciting aerial sequence. As stated, the adults are the oblivious ones, with the con men not being careful enough and underestimating the kids, while the adults being too focused on delegation and regulations rather than believing the children's words. Pacing and setting up the plot points are well structured and the flow is on target, though there are some slightly unbelievable moments with the children easily being able to parachute from an airplane and also not having the air get decompress the airplane when the hatch is opened. There is also the convenience of them landing so close to an airbase in Malta and being able to run into the communications tower without getting stopped by security. But with logic aside, this is one of the highlights of the set, as one of the most entertaining of CFF's many works. As for kids being able to drive? It may not be legal on the road, but for the sake of national and international emergency, they shouldn't be punished, should they?

"Blow Your Own Trumpet" (1958)

Jim Fenn (played by Michael Crawford) is a young boy who doesn't have any particular hobby he is quite good at, giving up on everything that comes his way. But with an upcoming spot in the local band for a cornet sparks a keen interest for him. Being an instrument out of his price range and his parents not looking to pay for it, he receives some luck when second hand shop owner Mr. Duff (played by Peter Butterworth) lets Jim have an old and dusty cornet for a very small fee, with a promise that he will practice playing it, with Mr. Duff guiding him. While things are looking up for Jim's spirits, there are still concerns with bullies, especially rich kid Tony Holroyd (played by Martyn Shields) who is also eyeing on the cornet spot.

This CFF feature doesn't have the children vs adults theme but is more about class struggles, bullying from peers and overcoming depression through the eyes of the children, with the adult characters being very much on the supporting side of the story. It's wonderful seeing the story of the underdog through an evolution of his spirit, from a young boy that has little to no hope with failure after failure and no support from his parents as they've seen how easily he had given up for a long time, and eventually growing with confidence within himself through an unlikely brass instrument. What makes Jim eye the cornet is not a particular note that is touched on, and it's only a plot device to make things interesting with his main bully also having a cornet to begin with. Maybe it was subconsciously a way to prove himself, and it is the process of seeing Jim's transformation that makes the film worthwhile, especially with the touching and funny performance from Peter Butterworth as the supportive Mr. Duff. The climactic audition in front of the town is what audition nightmares are made of, with trouble getting to the location on time, getting locked in a room, and a belt that just won't buckle properly. On top of that there are bullies spitting seeds and the fear of dozens of onlookers. The film captures all the anxieties and tribulations wonderfully with sweat and humor, and this was one of actor Michael Crawford's earliest roles, in a year in which he appeared in two CFF productions, with the other being "Sopabox Derby". Children and music are another key plot device seen in a number of CFF productions, and this is not the only one in this particular set.

"The Missing Note" (1961)

Teenager Joan (played by Heather Bennett) and her two younger brothers Tom (played by Hennie Scott) and Willie John Moulder-Brown) frequent a nearby abandoned building where an old piano sits, as it is the only place that Joan can practice her music skills while the boys listen on. But when they learn that the piano was removed and sold off, they are desperate to try and hunt it down. But they are not the only ones looking for the piano, as it was also used to hide some stolen loot, and the jewel thief is following close behind.

It almost seems like the feature is set in postwar Britain rather than the 1960s with the dilapidated manor in the opening, but the film does show the modern conveniences of the period with television, as it is the appliance that the children's mother recently buys. The feature is basically a chase from here to there, with the children just missing out on where the piano gets taken to, while there is also the wickedness with the bad guy on their tail. Does it really have to be that old piano? Yes, as it has a lollipop inside, which is the youngest's logic. As for the climactic end with the musical segment, it does seem unlikely that such a beat up old instrument would be used for an immediate stage performance, but stranger things have of course happened and will happen in the CFF universe. "The Missing Note" is fairly enjoyable with the relationships between the siblings and the constant change of atmosphere, though it doesn't quite peak as being a standout.

"The Big Catch" (1968)

Taking place in a fishing community in Scotland, the town's fishermen are not doing well as they are not able to catch enough to make ends meet. Fisherman's son Ewan (played by David Gallacher) knows about sailing and fishing from his father (played by James Copeland), but gets into a bit of a rivalry with supposed know-it-all peer Lindsay (played by Ron Sinclair). With Lindsay vying not to go down without proving himself, he sets off on a quest by himself to capture a wild horse on a remote island, which leads to concerns from Ewan and his friends.

"The Big Catch" is the first CFF feature in this set in color, and taking place in the Scottish isles rather than in the streets of London near the CFF offices. Tension is high not only for the children in this short but also in the background with the adults and their financial issues, though like many other CFF features, this is an issue that the adults may focus on rather than what the child audiences are, and it is not fully gone into, which is fair. As for the children, the horse scene and the sailing scenes are quite impressive with the stuntwork and filming, though one should hope that was an actual stuntman involved and not the child actor. The feature may have looked nice with the color cinematography (though underwhelming in this DVD transfer), but the story doesn't come off as compelling as some of the others from the CFF.

"Blinker's Spy-Spotter" (1972)

Blinker (played by David Spooner is a young inventor who loves to piece together wacky inventions which sometimes is innovative, and other times being flat out dangerous. His mother (played by Mildred Mayne) urges him to play outside more, such as with football rather than being holed up in his bedroom without friends to play with. While out, he encounters Glenda (played by Sally Anne Mawlowe) who introduces him to a group of football playing peers looking for a new goalie. Blinker may not have the physical skills, but he quickly invents a device that can magnetically repel the ball from going into the goal at all, making him a star. But it's not all fun and games for Blinker, as there are a group of thieves out to steal the secret Pulsar Crystal X, which his professor father (played by Arthur Howard has been working on.

With wacky inventions, oddball crooks, and fun scenes of football, "Blinker's Spy-Spotter" is a ton of fun with a lot of great sequences throughout. From the acceptance of the nerdy kid by the sporty gang, his smarts being able to outwit the supposedly smarter adults, the character of Blinker may not know how to kick a ball without falling flat on his back but he can sure put his better skills to great use. The thieves, nicknamed North (played by Brian Forster), South (played by Bernard Bresslaw) and East (played by Milton Reid) are fun to watch in their inept struggles falling out of windows, getting hit in the face with a model plane, falling into a muddy pond, and more which should delight kids of all ages, and like all other CFF features, is brisk in its pacing and gets right to the point. Not a lot is stated about what the Pulsar Crystal X is and what its powers are, not to mention why Blinker's father is old enough to be his grandfather instead, but those details are not necessary to enjoy the story.

"The Flying Sorcerer" (1973)

David (played by Kim Burfield) is accidentally taken back in time to the Middle Ages through an experimental time travel machine developed by his uncle Charlie (played by John Bluthal). David meets sorcerer Astrolabe (played by Tim Barrett) who is looking for a way to defeat the giant dragon known as Dormantus that is wreaking havoc in the kingdom.

Time travel is always a fun plot point for cinematic storytelling, but only if there is enough of a budget to showcase the changed environment to make the alternate time believable. It seems like a good amount was spent on the laboratory with its machinery and lighting, but the Middle Ages setting with the barren area by an old castle, with minimal cast members and a dragon that looks like it was a prop piece taken from a local carnival, there is a major lack of plausibility in "The Flying Sorcerer". While there is fun to be had, especially with Astrolabe and his newfound desire for peanut butter and aviation, as well as uncle Charlie accidentally bringing Dormantus to the present day, this is one story that could have been improved with a bigger budget with animation to bring the dragon to life rather than an animatronic on wheels. The CFF did use animation in limited design in works like "The Stolen Airliner" in the parachuting sequence as well as with a monster on a smaller scale in "The Monster of Highgate Ponds" (1961), but for a large fire breathing dragon in 1973, audiences really had to suspend their disbelief for this one.

"Mr. Selkie" (1978)

Siblings Eileen (played by Samantha Weysom and Jimmy (played by Clark Flanagan) witness an unusual man at the seaside who requests to see the person in charge of the town. The man (played by Peter Bayliss) goes to the town hall to talk to councilwoman Mrs. Crane (played by Zara Nutley on the environmental pollution through dumping into the sea. While she is unresponsive due to many other important tasks, the man is eager to get his point across, and Eileen and Jimmy are willing to help. But with the man having a massive craving for raw fish and only wanting to drink saltwater, the kids suspect he might not be human...

"Mr. Selkie" is a fantasy story that looks at environmental issues in a fun way for children to understand as well as being able to have fun. Usually the main adult characters are side characters or bad guys, but here we see one that is almost like a child with his mannerisms and characterization, with Bayliss playing the character wonderfully. There are quite a number of memorable segments like the football scene with the children (linked further down below) and the garbage tossing sequence in town hall to demonstrate the disasters being faced in the sea. While the message is of grave importance, the story is light and fun, which makes things easy to swallow (like the fish) and give children a lot to think about, and not just with the existence of selkies in the world.

"Gabrielle and the Doodleman" (1984)

Gabrielle (played by Prudence Oliver) is a nine-year-old girl who lives her life in a wheelchair after being injured in a car accident many years ago that took the life of her mother. Raised by her widower father (played by Gareth Hunt) who is a computer programmer, she is often playing games on the computer, and sometimes with ones her father created or modified. But within the computer is a sentient program (played by Matthew Kelly) who is programmed to help Gabrielle in not just her playing, but in her life as well.

"Gabrielle and the Doodleman" is in the Atari/"TRON" era with the start of home computers and video games becoming a part of households, though rather than characters getting sucked into the games, the film is a cross between dreams and reality which doesn't quite seem to know where the rules are set. There are the reality segments with Gabrielle in a wheelchair, while the dream sequences in which she is able to walk and interact with the program named agent Seven-Double-O, or "Doodleman" as Gabrielle nicknames him. While there is a lot going on and what seems to be a fairly big cast, it is creatively done with a number of actors performing multiple parts, with Windsor Davies, Lynsey de Paul, Josephine Tewson, Bob Todd and even Gareth Hunt playing more than one role. Shot on standard definition PAL video rather than on film, it certainly was a more modern looking feature at the time and also having video effects in many sequences. Though it looks absolutely dated now, it does feel nostalgic to see a video store in the opening credits that advertises that it carries both VHS and Beta cassettes for rental. The cheesy retroness does not stop there, as the opening synth theme song which is sung by Matthew Kelly is equally charming and annoying. This was a feature that did not see a theatrical release as it was during the last few years of CFF producing and distributing content, and this was for television broadcast instead. Interestingly this is also the only CFF feature in this set that features just one child in the entire production, and doesn't quite have the same tone as the others featured.

While it is nice that these films are getting home video releases, the random collection of these "Bumper Box" sets may not have the same appeal as the BFI's themed CFF releases, like "Runaways", "The Race Is On", and "Weird Adventures". But then it also leaves the question of "Where do we place the more unclassifiable features?" Another idea that may have been mentioned was making a more decade-centered CFF collection, but there may be a more limited audience by including only early 1950s features into one set as opposed to a more inclusive set that showcases a better sense of variety and changes throughout the decades.

Note this is a region 0 PAL DVD set


The BFI presents "The Dog and the Diamonds", "The Stolen Airliner", "Blow Your Own Trumpet", "The Missing Note", "The Big Catch", "Mr. Selkie", and "Gabrielle and the Doodleman" approximately in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio (non-anamorphoc in the PAL format. For "Blinker's Spy-Spotter" and "The Flying Sorcerer", they are presented approximately in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio (anamorphic) in the PAL format.

There are no details of the sources of each feature, though it is stated that they are taken from best available film and video elements held by the BFI National Archive. As there is a span of just over three decades between the oldest and newest short, there are bound to be differences between the quality of the transfers. They have not gone through any major restoration process and have noticeable defects, whether it is damage marks or slightly blurry colors.

"The Dog and the Diamonds" has a slightly inconsistent look to its black and white image, though it is because it is taken from two different elements. In the 1970s it was reissued in a revised version, which cut a few sequences. A 35mm print of the reissue version and a 16mm print of the full length version were used for the transfer, with the excised scenes having a noticeably grainier and contrasted look in comparison to the 35mm scenes. There are damage marks to be seen and some flickering to the image, though it is in a watchable state. "The Stolen Airliner" has better greyscale and less damage, though the weaknesses are noticeable. "Blow Your Own Trumpet" and "The Missing Note" are others with noticeable improvements with a much sharper black and white image with fewer damage marks to be found. "The Big Catch" is the first color film in this set, and though it was shot on film, there seems to be a few instances of analog video issues. Near the start of the film, there is a noticeable shift in a few lines of resolution right in the middle of the screen. Later it occurs at the bottom of the frame. It seems to be an issue with the master source tape, which also has some drab colors and an image that is not quite sharp. "Blinker's Spy-Spotter" is a better improvement, with sharper colors and less damage marks to be found. "The Flying Sorcerer" is also one that showcases colors especially in the laboratory sequences, and while skin tones may be on the paler side (well, it was basically an all-Caucasian cast) though there are no overly distracting damage marks to note, One issue is with the framing though. Framed in 1.66:1, it never seems odd until it gets to the end credits, which at one point there is one line at the bottom of the frame that is unreadable as half of it is cut off. "Mr. Selkie" goes back to having drab and unimpressive colors, looking very stale. While there aren't many damage marks, it does look a little flat, looking like it came from a video transfer. "Gabrielle and the Doodleman" is the sole short to be shot on PAL video, and so there is a gap in colors and clarity in comparison to the celluloid filmed shorts. It does look fairly good throughout considering the format's limitations, with no issues of tracking or magnetic interference to be seen.

The shorts are uncut with the runtimes as stated below:
* "The Dog and the Diamonds" (1953) (51:19)
* "The Stolen Airliner" (1955) (56:42)
* "Blow Your Own Trumpet" (1958) (54:05)
* "The Missing Note" (1961) (53:42)
* "The Big Catch" (1968) (52:45)
* "Blinker's Spy-Spotter" (1972) (55:38)
* "The Flying Sorcerer" (1973) (49:53)
* "Mr. Selkie" (1978) (49:33)
* "Gabrielle and the Doodleman" (1984) (54:26)

"The Dog and the Diamonds"

"The Stolen Airliner"

"Blow Your Own Trumpet"

The Missing Note"

"The Big Catch"

"Blinker's Spy-Spotter"

"The Flying Sorcerer"

"Mr. Selkie"

"Gabrielle and the Doodleman"


English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
All films in the set are presented with their original mono audio. Like the image quality, the sound quality differs between each film. "The Dog and the Diamonds" has noticeable hiss and crackle. "The Stolen Airliner" has a bit of distortion with dialogue. "Blow Your Own Trumpet" has some hiss in the audio throughout. "The Missing Note" has a bit of crackle. "The Big Catch" is on the fair side with its audio, though sounding a bit flat. "Blinker's Spy-Spotter" and "The Flying Sorcerer" sound fairly good with nice balance and not major issues. "Mr. Selkie" is a bit flat but without much to speak of in terms of damage. Finally, "Gabrielle and the Doodleman" sounds fair here. While each have their differing issues, dialogue in each short comes in fair and intelligible for the most part.

There are no subtitles for any of the films or extras. This is not a new issue as most if not all CFF DVDs from the BFI have been released without subtitles for captioning the dialogue. Sure, it would have been nice to have, though the cost and time for transcribing were probably unfeasible.


This is a 3-disc set with each disc having 3 full CFF films plus some extras as listed below:


"Stable Rivals" 1952 CFF short (15:03)

This short film by the CFF follows three children, Jim (played by Kerrin Masterman), Dick (played by Kim Pickup), and Betty (played by Sheila Muir) who are young friends getting ready to compete in a local competition with their horses. But when Jim learns that his family is looking to selling his horse Smokey for money, he decides to try and cheat his way to victory, which will cause a rift in the friendship. It seems that there was an issue with the vocal performances or the sound recording on location for the short, as everyone seems to be ADRed here, causing the young boys to sound like young men in an unnatural sense, most likely dubbed by other actors. Or that the two boys went through puberty quite early. Interesting is seeing the actors on horseback in the scenes performing through the obstacles, and it seems that the CFF chose children who had horseriding skills to begin with. This very early short from the CFF get to the plot points very quickly and it doesn't quite have the impact it should with the moral tale's end due to its very short runtime. As for the picture and audio, the black and white image if fair, with a bit of hiss to be heard with the post production dialogue.
in non-anamorphic 1.33:1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono without subtitles

"Swift Water" 1952 CFF short (15:05)
Another early short from the CFF, this time we are treated to another set of three friends, with Jeff (played by Jasper Jewitt), Terry (played by Guthrie Mason) and Ann Sally Sanderson) looking to take a sailboat out to the bay. Terry's overly protective aunt (played by Dorothy Hannaford) doesn't want him wandering off, though he is able to sneak away to have a little fun. This short doesn't have an overly moral message, though it has more a message to adults, as in letting children go off and have fun on their own is important. And that even means if a little trouble were to happen. The black and white image is fair here, and the ADR dubbing is much better with the kids actually sounding like themselves. As for the music which is performed on a concertina sometimes sounds awful, taking away from impact the short could have had.
in non-anamorphic 1.33:1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono without subtitles


"The Chiffy Kids: Pot Luck" 1976 CFF short (19:02)

The Chiffy Kids are Rocky (played by Luke Batchelor, Susie (played by Lesley Saunders, Slim (played by Philip Sadler), Fiddler (played by Wayne Kebell) and Magpie (played by Tracy Strand), who played the characters in a series of twelve shorts. This episode is the first, with the kids setting up their tents at a riverbank location across from an old haunted house, which the local adults tell them not to worry about. There are moments of slapstick humor, with their tents falling apart after setting them up and the youngest Magpie who takes some things from the local farmers by mistake. While all seems nice and innocent, the real letdown in this episode is that the haunted house that is sometimes visible is a red herring. There is a white sheet ghost gag at one point, but for audiences expecting something like a Scooby-Doo episode will be gravely tricked. This is the only episode of the series to get a DVD release so far it seems and it would be interesting if the BFI released more series based CFF productions in a complete set, as they did with "Masters of Venus" (1962) a few years ago. The transfer here is fairly good with the colors and sound, though it is curiously in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. I can't find information if "The Chiffy Kids" was a theatrically released series or a broadcast television series, though the aspect ratio would suggest it was for cinemas, at least for the first episode.
in anamorphic 1.66:1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono without subtitles

"Chimp Mates: The Big Kick" 1976 CFF short (16:31)
Alice the chimp finds her way to local football match, where she becomes the star player to take over the field. As there is nothing stated in the rulebook that a chimp can or can't play, her antics and her goals (for her team and own-goals for the other team) become a wild hit with the spectators. "Chimp Mates" was another series from the CFF, with a total of nineteen episodes produced, with this being the sixth. Interestingly this was released the same year as Disney's live-action feature "Gus", about a donkey with an accurate kick that becomes a star on the football field (the American kind in which they oddly use their hands mostly), in which he is allowed to play as the rulebook doesn't state if a donkey can or can't play the sport. This was most likely pure coincidence, though the similarities would continue on with a lot of pet related family films, with "Air Bud" series (again from Disney) would continue the odd tradition. Wacky and with silly humor, here is another series that hasn't received a complete series on DVD as of yet. While a lot of CFF shorts and features having a cast of child actors who would basically disappear from the media world, Dexter Fletcher who played Joey became an acclaimed actor and director in his adult life and continues to work prolifically to this day. The transfer her is fair but not exceptional, with bland colors and a not too sharp image, though the sound is a bit on the better side.
in non-anamorphic 1.33:1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono without subtitles


"A CFF Production: London Locations" 2023 featurette (13:57)

12-year-old actor Edward Molony is the presenter of this newly produced featurette which looks at a number of locations from a few CFF films from the past and how the places have changed or stayed the same in the twenty-first century. Included are locations featured in "The Boy Who Turned Yellow" (1972), "The Monster of Highgate Ponds" (1961), "Night Ferry", and "Operation Third Form" which have been released by the BFI on DVD in differing collections. There are some fascinating before and after shots, information about the films themselves, and a few locations that the staff couldn't get access to as well, due to some of the changes over the years to the always changing London.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Our Magazine No 4" 1952 CFF short (9:49)
The last short in the set is quite different in comparison to the other CFF films found in this set, as it is an educational short for children, complete with narration and without a story. The topics covered are the dangers of crossing a street, how iron is crafted in rural Africa, the power and beauty of great danes, and a modern cowboy teaching children. Not in the American west, but in Britain with the acting cowboy playing with a wild west American accent.
in non-anamorphic 1.33:1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono without subtitles

The first pressing comes with a 32 page booklet. First is "Rise and Shine with the Fourth Fabulous Fin-Filled CFF Bumper Box!" by the BFI's Vic Pratt with a basic overview of the CFF and what to expect from the films in the set. Next are notes on each of the nine main films in the set again by Pratt. Then there is a scan of an original typed letter to "Mr. Selkie" actress Samantha Weysom informing her of screenings of the film in 1979, in which they would have liked her to attend for promotion. Weysom, who is now Samantha McCallum through marriage also gives a written recollection of the production of "Mr. Selkie" when she was twelve years old, and is more than happy to see this production as well as the BFI's release of "The Appointment" from 1982 which she also appeared in, getting new home video releases after all these years. Next is "Remembering John Tully" which is a recollection of the co-writer of "Mr. Selkie" and many other CFF productions from his daughter Dianna Manthey. There are also notes on the bonus shorts and the newly produced featurette, plus a quiz on the nine feature films in this set with one question per film, plus one bonus question. The answers are printed on the next page. Though I took notes, I only got half of them correct, as some of them were minor details such as numbers and names that I didn't jot down. (I did get the bonus question easily though, as it is about the CFF in general rather than an individual work.) Finally, there are stills, transfer information, and acknowledgements.

The opening ten minutes of "The Dog and the Diamonds" from CMF, which will not allow embedding for this clip.

The opening ten minutes of "The Stolen Aircraft", courtesy of CMF.

The opening ten minutes of "Blow Your Own Trumpet" from CMF, which will not allow embedding for this clip.

The first five minutes of "The Missing Note", courtesy of CMF.

The first five minutes of "The Big Catch", courtesy of CMF.

The opening five minutes of "Blinker's Spy-Spotter" from CMF, which will not allow embedding for this clip.

The opening five minutes of "The Flying Sorcerer" from CMF, which will not allow embedding for this clip.

The first seven minutes of "Mr. Selkie", courtesy of CMF.

The football scene from "Mr. Selkie", courtesy of CMF.

The opening five minutes of "Gabrielle and the Doodleman" from CMF, which will not allow embedding for this clip.


"Children's Film Foundation: Bumper Box Volume 4" is another excellent round of nine features from the BFI. While they may appeal more to a nostalgic crowd for the most part, the simplistic nature and fun adventures will easily appeal to younger audiences of today with many of the stories being timeless in their messages. The transfers are hit or miss as they have not gone through a major restoration, but are in watchable and listenable states here, with a few good extras with the additional shorts and the new featurette. Recommended.

Note the ratings below are an average for all nine features included.

The Film: B Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: B- Overall: B-


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