Dir: Jack Clayton
Starring: Laurence Harvey and Simone Signoret
An ambitious young clerk eventually succeeds by marrying into a rich family
This widely lauded, gritty, northern drama is thought to be the first of the British New Wave of realistic film dramas otherwise known as the ‘kitchen sink’ cycle. It is based on the 1957 novel of the same name by John Braine. The opening scene features Laurence Harvey arriving by train at Halifax station, masquerading as ‘Warnley Town’. The train is hauled by ex-LMS Stanier Class 4P 2-Cylinder 2-6-4T No.42477 (with its number doctored to read as 2477, its pre-1948 LMS number!?) and the opening shot of Harvey inside the train appears to be real, and not a studio set. There are several scenes filmed in Market Street, Bradford, and the frontage of the old Forster Square Railway Station is just visible. Later in the film, Laurence Harvey and Simone Signoret make a journey to the coast and there is an excellent shot of ex-SR M7 Class 0-4-4T No.30027 arriving at Baynards station with push-pull set No.431. Baynards was on the direct Guildford-Christ’s Hospital line, not exactly on the coast! The film was followed by two sequels; Life at the Top in 1965 and Man at the Top in 1973 (both qv). Baynards station meanwhile became something of a film star by appearing in five movies in six years. The station also featured in The Grass is Greener (1960), The Horsemasters (1961), Rotten to the Core (1965) and Monster of Terror (1965) (all qv). It had earlier featured in They Were Sisters (1945) (qv) and in 1957 the BBC filmed an adaptation of The Railway Children there. Quite astonishing when you think about it.