Newest Reviews
Bruce Lee & I
Doraemon The Movie: Nobita's Dinosaur
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
Invasion Planet Earth
Buddhist Spell, The
Steel and Lace
Reivers, The
Angel Has Fallen
I Lost My Body
At First Light
Free Ride
Blank Check
Mad Monk, The
Wind, The
Holly and the Ivy, The
Now, Voyager
Wolf's Call, The
Nightingale, The
Eighth Grade
Irishman, The
Lords of Chaos
Operation Petticoat
Dead Don't Die, The
On the Waterfront
Last Faust, The
Art of Self-Defense, The
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
Newest Articles
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
  Finishing Line, The Off The TracksBuy this film here.
Year: 1977
Director: John Krish
Stars: Don Henderson, various
Genre: Horror, Drama, Weirdo
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A boy sits atop a railway bridge, surveying the scene of the tracks below, and thinking on the stern warnings from the headmaster at school assembly that day where he ordered the pupils to stay away from railway lines and never to play anywhere near them - they are not a sports field. But what if they were, ponders the boy, what if there was a sports day held on the tracks while the trains were still running? What would that be like?

Absolute carnage, according to this, and according to anyone with any way sensible reasoning, but in the mid-nineteen-seventies in Britain there were increasing numbers of children falling victim to accidents, many fatal, thanks to their lure of the railways. These were not over-adventurous trainspotters, these were kids showing off with the bravado of naïve youth, the kind who were blowing their fingers off come Bonfire Night or drowning in foolhardy swimming excursions or getting run over because they were not stopping, looking and listening when they crossed the road.

The British Government responded by flooding the decade with public information films, some as little as a few seconds long, others as much as half an hour or so, those longer efforts to be shown, often with police present, in schools, town halls or eventually on television, as The Finishing Line was – to much outcry. It was the brainchild of the C.O.I.'s most inspired and edgy talent John Krish, who devised shorts both comical (the pickpocketing warning Snatch of the Day) or disturbing (the fruit-destroying road safety metaphor Peach and Hammer). He had a long career in both fiction and documentary but seemed to be most enthused by mixing the two.

This, for British Transport Films, was probably his P.I.F. magnum opus, that double whammy of ramming the point home and disturbing the target audience into thinking twice before misbehaving or being careless. The sports day itself takes the form of four events of increasing carnage, all while parents look on approvingly and a brass band parps away and the teachers order the pupils about, essentially sending them to be maimed and slaughtered instead of looking after them as they are supposed to. This callousness on the part of the adults, and the enthusiasm the children have for launching themselves into the worst possible actions (there are points to be won for each colour-coded team, chalked up on a scoreboard), are what gave the piece its power.

Well, that and all the blood they used, the bodies of the kids (all volunteers from a local school) smashed when the trains hit them, or in a turnabout, the passengers and driver bleeding from serious head injuries when the kids throw rocks at a passing carriage. The message was clear even if the language wasn't: don't be a fucking idiot, kids! That sense of invincibility all youngsters had was played upon with the same savagery as its contemporary Apaches, the farm safety film, demonstrating it was nothing but an illusion and you were far more vulnerable than you ever believed. Little wonder that there were complaints from parents when their offspring couldn't sleep at night after seeing them both, and The Finishing Line was eventually withdrawn, a milder item, Robbie, replacing it. There were rumours it had been destroyed, but it did show up on a DVD compilation eventually, and its full impact can still be appreciated. From an era when frightening the younglings into behaving was perfectly legitimate.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 483 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: