GB 1931 1hr 06mins Dir: Maurice Elvey Starring: Peter Hannen and Benita Hume
A scientist and his wife honeymoon in Scotland and get embroiled in an attempted kidnapping
This early thriller has a wonderful fast-paced chase in its final third with some very good railway scenes on the LMS network, it is just unfortunate that we do not know where all these were filmed. Some scenes took place on the Highland main line at both Aviemore Junction and Daviot stations, but it seems that others could have been shot on the Settle-Carlisle route. The train journeys themselves use quite detailed sets (note the LMS bedspreads in the sleeping car!) with the usual back-projection whilst there are many shots of passing trains. Some are at night and thus completely indistinguishable, and others show just wheels and motion, yet there are still some good shots of expresses passing mostly in the hands of unrebuilt ‘Royal Scots’. Interestingly, as the train first pulls away we get a glimpse of the cab of No.6100 Royal Scot itself. This will be the original doyen of the fleet, two years before it swapped identities with No.6152 and thus quite rare. Incredibly, the only other ‘Royal Scot’ identifiable in the film is No.6152 The King’s Dragoon Guardsman!! There is also a run-by of a Hughes ‘Crab’ 2-6-0, a distant shot of Culloden Viaduct with train, and an interesting shot of a train passing a locomotive shed complete with engine. Finally, the train arrives into London Euston station behind a ‘Claughton’ 4-6-0, but not before we see a train arrive behind another ‘Royal Scot’! The film was based on the 1926 novel Footsteps in the Night by Cicely Fraser-Simson. Benita Hume was a successful actress of her time and will be known to railway buffs for playing a lead role in the 1929 classic The Wrecker which featured one of the most spectacular staged crashes of all time. Peter Hannen, meanwhile, would make just one more film before falling ill and dying in January 1932 at the age of just 24. As a footnote, Hannen plays a scientist in the film who has devised some sort of energy saving device that will revolutionise the concept of travel. The opening scene shows him working on a very detailed engineers line drawing of a steam locomotive.