BEAT GIRL

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GB
1960
1hr 25mins
Dir: Edmond Gréville
Starring: David Farrar and Delphi Lawrence

An architect’s daughter rebels against her father’s new young wife

This drama about late-fifties youth-rebellion includes a scene with some teenagers undertaking a car race. This involves a railway sequence that starts with them driving under the majestic Welwyn Viaduct then playing chicken at a level crossing. There is an initial shot of an ex-LMS ‘Jubilee’ Class 4-6-0 leaving Elstree Tunnel on an express, but the train at the level crossing has an identity change. An ex-LMS Class 5MT ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 approaches the group of youths but as it passes it has become a two-coach passenger hauled by a small tank locomotive! The location of the level crossing is not known. The scene with youths lying on the track used real footage, with back-projection cut in where necessary. The original script, entitled Striptease Girl, was submitted to the British Board of Film Censors in March 1959, whose reviewers gave it an ‘X’ rating due to its content. The project was then renamed Beat Girl and although the nudity was reduced, censors still objected to scenes of strip tease, juvenile delinquency, the implication of underage sex and teenagers playing ‘chicken’ by lying on railway tracks before an oncoming train. Ultimately, the film still received an ‘X’ certificate, causing its release to be delayed. Some versions of the released film have cut the original striptease sequences (which included topless nudity), some scenes set in the strip club, the ‘chicken’ game scene and, most curiously, some opening exposition scenes with David Farrar and Noëlle Adam on a train. These scenes feature a stock shot of LMS ‘Royal Scot’ Class 6P 4-6-0 No.6100 Royal Scot on Bushey Troughs. The loco is displaying the cast ‘THE ROYAL SCOT’ headboard from its 1933 North American Tour and this shot crops up from time to time in other films, including Cage of Gold (1950) and Escapade (1955) (both qv). The carriage interior scene is a set.

The opening railway scene in the film is this by now classic stock shot of ‘The Royal Scot’ on Bushey Troughs. One thing that this shot does show more clearly than the others in which it appears is that the loco, No.6100 Royal Scot, is in early British Railways black.
Versions of the complete film are hard to come by and those available often cut the main railway scene. It was supposedly set at night so it is often near-impossible to make anything out but copies are available that show it almost as clear as day. This is the majestic Welwyn (or Digswell) Viaduct in Hertfordshire.
A good passing shot of an ex-LMS ‘Jubilee’ leaving Elstree Tunnel on the Midland main line. The ‘Jubilee’ may be No.45654 Hood.
The teenagers jump a level crossing….somewhere
A ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 slowly approaches the assembled teenagers. Their ghostly white appearance shows that this is clearly ‘back-projection’ in the studio, but then it wouldn’t be the real thing would it?!
The train passes by, and it has morphed into a small tank loco on two coaches!