1hr 25mins
Dir: Alfred Shaughnessy
Starring: Josephine Douglas and Pete Murray

A young singer on a train bound for London, finds herself in the company of more famous musicians and performers

This was the film version of the famous 1950s BBC television show 6-5 Special, and is basically a number of different pop acts travelling by train with only a loose story linking them together. Like the TV show, the posters for the ‘smash hit musical of the year’ display the title as 6.5 Special (taken from the time of its television slot of 6:05pm) and though this is an alternate title often used for this film, the movie was officially released as Six-Five Special. The film would have been very cheap to produce. The first 48 minutes used a train that never left the studio with stock-shots thrown in where appropriate, whilst the remainder was an episode of the 6.5 Special, which would have been aired anyway. It is a cornucopia of British jukebox talent of the 1950s in a cavalcade of hits, some dimly recalled, but most long forgotten. The players were: Jim Dale, Desmond Lane, The Ken-Tones, Diane Todd, Johnny Dankworth, Cleo Laine, Joan Regan, Don Lang, Victor Soverall, Jimmy Lloyd, Petula Clark, Russ Hamilton, The John Barry Seven, Jackie Dennis (‘The Kilted Choirboy’), The King Brothers, Dickie Valentine, and Lonnie Donegan, plus comic relief from Mike and Bernie Winters, and dancing by Leigh Madison and Paddy Stone. The title shots are similar to those of the TV show, with stock footage that includes an aerial shot from the 1930s of the LMS’ streamlined ‘Coronation Scot’ tilted train, two trains passing in the hands of LMS 4-6-0’s, a couple of LNER Pacifics, one of which is crossing the Forth Bridge, and footage taken out of the window of a train passing through Twyford station in Berkshire. In addition there is a shot of a train of vans crossing the Forth Bridge as viewed from atop the girders, several driver views of the road ahead, and footage from the cab roof of an express train that appears to be from the continent, possibly in France. The rest of the film is basically studio sets and models, with stock shots of trains thrown in where appropriate. The majority of these show various night shots of expresses (several of which appear to be from the previous years The Flying Scot), whilst several others are taken from Brief Encounter (both qv). There is one very dark shot of a GWR ‘King’ Class 4-6-0 arriving at London Paddington, but most of the other shots are indiscernible.

This aerial view of the streamlined LMS ‘Coronation Scot’ titled train opens the film. This by now classic view was filmed from an aeroplane as part of the LMS’ aggressive publicity campaign for its crack express.
The approaching train appears to be hauled by an LMS ‘Royal Scot’ 4-6-0
This roof top view looks distinctly foreign, and possibly shows a French railway
An LNER express crosses the Forth Bridge. The loco may be a Peppercorn A1 Pacific.
A view from atop the Forth Bridge shows a van train crossing ‘down below’
Unfortunately the footage of this express has been somewhat cropped, but there is enough to tell us that the locomotive is an ex-LMS ‘Patriot’ 4-6-0
Twyford station in Berkshire, change here for Henley-on-Thames
This ‘over-the-camera’ view of an ex-LNER A1/A2 Class 4-6-2 appeared in The Challenge two years later – qv
This very dark shot almost certainly shows a former GWR ‘King’ Class 4-6-0 arriving into London Paddington
This beautiful moonlit view of an express is one of several night shots to feature in this film that appeared first in the 1957 crime thriller The Flying Scot
This stock image has appeared in other films including Johnny, You’re Wanted (1956), Snowball (1960), and The Mind Benders (1963). It seems to show a ‘Black Five’.
I would say that the locomotive captured here passing over a level crossing is another ‘Royal Scot’. The locomotive’s nameplate visible immediately to right of the gate post looks to be a large Regimental one. This shot had earlier appeared in The Man in the White Suit (1951) and The Gold Express (1955).