Dir: Norman Lee
Starring: Michael Martin Harvey and Chili Bouchier
The story of Charles Peace, one of Britain’s most notorious criminals
This rarely seen account of Charles Peace, who at one point was regarded as Britain’s most wanted man, has a daring escape from a moving train that was filmed, possibly, somewhere in Yorkshire. This escape sequence was first filmed for The Life of Charles Peace, a 1905 silent one-reel story film which also appears on this website. That was daring by the limited standards of the day, but this 1949 version is understandably more complex in its production. The train appears to be hauled by a former Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Barton Wright Class 25 0-6-0, steaming labouriously on a rake of old non-corridor coaches lead by an equally vintage clerestory parcels van. Michael Martin Harvey played the role of Charles Peace, though it is unclear as to whether he carried out the stunts himself – particularly those in which he hangs out of the train – or whether a stunt man took his place. Very little about the film can be be found, so the location of filming, how it took place, and what rolling stock was used remains a mystery so far, though it is clear that the rolling stock used for the stunt differed to that seen in the opening shot of the passing train, as no brake coach is visible behind the engine. With thanks to Steve Blake for telling me about this film.