Dir: David Lean
Starring: Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson
A married woman embarks on a doomed romance with a married doctor
Brief Encounter perhaps more than any other film epitomises the railway station at night during the steam era, an era so fondly remembered perhaps, but not an era recognised by today’s younger minds. None the less, it is the trains and the station that have made this British film a classic, and it is now much-celebrated and rightly so. The screenplay for this drama is by Noël Coward, based on his 1936 one-act play Still Life. The bulk of the action took place at Carnforth, which doubled for ‘Milford Junction’, though it was reported for many years that the evocative shots of express trains passing through at speed were filmed at Watford Junction. Locos that feature include a couple of unrebuilt ‘Royal Scot’ 4-6-0’s and two streamlined ‘Coronation’ 4-6-2’s, but recent study of the scenes proves beyond reasonable doubt that these too were also filmed at Carnforth. Many of these scenes later reappear as stock footage, frequently turning up in films during the 1950’s and 1960’s (e.g. The Battle of the Sexes, Escape by Night, Mandy and Stop Press Girl, among many others). The loco of the ‘Ketchworth’ branch train was Stanier LMS Class 4P 2-cylinder 2-6-4T No.2429 and it becomes a minor character in itself, appearing as it does three times in the film. It probably had the same coaching stock too, and one vehicle, LMS coach No.25149 is prominent in one scene. ‘Ketchworth’ is a studio set, however, as is the interior of the station buffet. In fact, a lot of studio work was undertaken at Denham Studios which was then blended in with the live action sequences. The station set reappeared in the 1949 comedy film Love in Waiting alongside an unused shot of the Ketchworth branch train arriving alongside Celia Johnson! Check it out.