GB 1934 1hr 20mins Dir: Basil Dean Starring: Gracie Fields and John Loder
An unemployed yet high-spirited mill worker has various adventures in Blackpool
This musical is considered by many to be Gracie Fields’ finest vehicle and was written for her by leading novelist J.B. Priestley. Personally, I prefer Look Up And Laugh (qv) but this film does feature an appearance from my favourite actress – Olive Sloane. Largely filmed in Blackpool, it features a good number of quite rare railway shots with a number of contemporary locomotives on show. Unfortunately, a densely packed montage sequence near the start of the film shows a fair number of Blackpool excursion trains all blended in with one other, and this somewhat confuses the matter. Headboards proclaim them to be from places as far flung as Leeds and Edinburgh yet the motive power is largely indistinguishable. The only locomotive that we can positively make out is ex-L&YR Class 5 2-4-2T No.10953 though another seems to be hauled by a real treat in the form of an ex-LNWR ‘George the Fifth’ Class 4-4-0. The scenes at the end were filmed at both Blackpool Central and Blackpool North stations, the latter only recently renamed from Blackpool Talbot Road. Incredibly, the only loco identifiable here is No.10953 again, and we are treated to a very good close up shot of it departing Blackpool Central. Unsurprisingly, some of the trams make an appearance too, with Gracie Fields almost riding her bike under a nearly new English Electric Railcoach, though there are some earlier open-platform double-deck examples of real vintage. Exciting scenes filmed on the Pleasure Beach include a ride on the Pleasure Beach Express miniature railway, and we are afforded an excellent glimpse of one of the 21-inch gauge Hudswell Clarke steam outline diesel-hydraulic locomotives used on the line. The railway had only opened the previous year so was still a new attraction at the time of filming. It also appeared briefly in Love on the Dole (qv).