GB 1947 1hr 32mins Dir: Robert Hamer Starring: Googie Withers and John McCallum
An escaped convict takes refuge in the home of a former lover
This famous Ealing drama set in post-war East End London has some good atmospheric scenes, with the railway dominating the background throughout the film. John McCallum crosses a four-track railway at the beginning of the film having escaped from the nick, but it is not known where this scene was filmed. Look carefully though, and as he turns and runs a distant steam train can be seen approaching. Railways form the backdrop to many street scenes and in one, an Oerlikon EMU can be seen passing over Hawley Road between Camden Road and Kentish Town West stations whilst in another shot at dusk, a steam-hauled freight can be seen passing over the nearby Hartland Road possibly hauled by an LMS Class 4F 0-6-0. The next road up is Clarence Way, and a number of freight trains are viewed passing over the road bridge at the end of the terraced houses where the family live. However, most have been edited in such a way that the locos hauling the trains are not visible, though there is one glimpse of an LNER Class J52 0-6-0ST and one of an unidentified loco just passing out of shot as another scene opens. Later, there is a good scene filmed at night at an unknown level crossing where LMS Stanier Class 5 2-6-0 No.2974 passes with a freight. The main scenes though are left to the end, where there is an excellent chase sequence at the film’s climax. This was shot in Temple Mills Marshalling Yard near Stratford and sees John McCallum pursued by police led by Jack Warner, which includes a superbly edited and choreographed cat-and-mouse sequence with both characters narrowly avoiding moving trains and shunted wagons. The best bit sees McCallum emerge from beneath a rake of wagons only to narrowly miss being run down by an LNER J39 Class 0-6-0. The worst bit, by today’s standards anyway, is some comically inept model work in the scene where McCallum and Warner find themselves in separate wagons of a train being pushed over the hump. As the wagons roll down the other side and split their separate ways there are a couple of stick figures standing in the wagons that supposedly represent the actors! There are, however, plenty of locos on view in this part of the film with the stars of the show being a pair of J67 Class 0-6-0T’s No’s 8591 and 8607 which are seen on shunting duties. The wagons themselves are a fascinating collection of period pieces. The entrance to ‘Whitechapel’ station at the very beginning and end is a set, as the station never had a brick entrance as shown.