ARABESQUE

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US
1966
1hr 45mins
Dir: Stanley Donen
Starring: Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren

An Oxford professor finds his life in grave danger after he deciphers a hieroglyphic

Based on Gordon Cotler’s 1961 novel The Cipher, this political thriller contains a brief scene that was filmed at London Waterloo station with a good shot of 4 SUB EMU No.4717 arriving. The EMU has stencil headcode 28, Waterloo – Reading, Aldershot or Farnham via Richmond (rear portion detached at Ascot for Aldershot). Much more interesting though is the exhilarating climax of the film that took place on the closed Crumlin Viaduct on the Pontypool-Neath line shortly before its demolition. This sequence sees Sophia Loren, Gregory Peck and Carl Duering arrive onto the viaduct on horseback, before they clamber down to the lower deck to avoid the attentions of Alan Badel, who is shooting at them from a helicopter. There are some excellent shots of the viaduct which passed over the Ebbw River and the Western Valleys Line between Llanhilleth and Crumlin (Low Level) stations. Look closely, and in one aerial shot from the viaduct, the former Crumlin (Low Level) station can be seen still intact, despite its closure to passenger services from 30th April 1962. Hailed as ‘one of the most significant examples of technological achievement during the Industrial Revolution’, in its 109 years of service until being dismantled in 1967, it remained: the least expensive bridge for its size ever constructed, the highest railway viaduct in the United Kingdom, and the third highest viaduct in the world.

4 SUB unit No.4717 pulls into Waterloo station on headcode 28. This was for a service via Ascot and by pure chance, Gregory Peck arrives in from Ascot in the film. Would such a detail really have been known to the production crew?
The concourse at London Waterloo, not too busy on this occasion, and with few trains visible in the platforms
This view of the viaduct is looking east towards the former Crumlin Junction with the houses of Swffryd on the hillside
Horses gallop across Crumlin Viaduct, where once trains rumbled 200 ft above the valley floor. This is the view looking west towards Crumlin (High Level) station with the houses of Rhiw in the background.
In this view looking through the glazed cabin of the helicopter, the tracks of the Western Valleys Line through the Ebbw Valley are visible on the far right. The disused buildings belonged to the former Navigation Colliery and were once rail served. The colliery closed in 1967, but much of what you can see here including the chimney still stands in a derelict state.
In this view from the viaduct, the closed Crumlin (Low Level) station is clearly visible to the right of the helicopter, an Agusta AB-47J Ranger. The covered station footbridge is above the much larger road bridge that carried the old A472 before it was realigned.
Out of interest, this is Crumlin Viaduct as viewed from Crumlin (Low Level) station in May 1957. The viaduct dominates the surroundings and the eastbound coal train is crossing, perilously. The viaduct took four years to build, and nine months to dismantle. (Ben Brooksbank-Wikipedia)