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1hr 41mins
Dir: Norman Tokar
Starring: David Niven and Jodie Foster

A butler prevents an attempt to pass off a fake heiress to an English estate which is said to hold a hoard of missing treasure

This Walt Disney family adventure is based on the 1953 Michael Innes novel Christmas at Candleshoe and features a car chasing a steam train, with the exhilarating sequence culminating in the car’s chauffeur bringing the train to a halt on a level crossing. The Severn Valley Railway was used with Arley station, Trimpley Reservoirs, Eardington Road Bridge (with the then open Eardington Halt in the background) and the Victoria Bridge all featuring in the movie. The train stopping scene was filmed at Waterworks Crossing and the locomotive that featured throughout was GWR 4500-series 2-6-2T No.4566 with chocolate and cream coaching stock. In a scene reminiscent to The Railway Children, the train came to a stand with the bufferbeam of the locomotive only inches from David Niven’s chest. To protect the actor, a full-size mock up of the locomotive’s front end was constructed by the film company which was taken away by them after completion of the scene. Arley station appears again at the very end of the film with an approaching train too far off to identify.

The railway sequence begins with this excellent shot of a train pulling out of Arley station on the Severn Valley Railway. The chase is on.
Arley station at platform level
The first shot of the locomotive shows it to be 4500-series 2-6-2T No.4566
A second run-by of 4566 and train
The chase sequence in this film is very well executed and is probably the best of any film that features a UK railway. This brilliantly timed shot has the train passing through Eardington Halt, which has since been closed. The car with David Niven and party makes its way up on the left and reaches the bridge before the train does.
Any sequence filmed on the Severn Valley Railway should include a shot of the railway’s prize asset and here it is, the Victoria Bridge across the Severn near Arley
Waterworks Crossing is the location for the final, breathtaking end to the chase. Note the cast iron ‘SVR’ signpost.
David Niven stands a hairs breadth away from No.4566. The ‘locomotive’ was actually a mock-up used for this scene and then ‘cut-in’ to the filming sequence. PZ was the GWR depot code for Penzance. The film is worth seeking out if only for the fabulous railway shots.