Dirs: Guy Fergusson and Colin Bell
Starring: Vernon Gray and Ann Walford
A news reporter foils a planned robbery of gold onboard an overnight sleeper train
This little known and rarely seen Rank ‘quota-quickie’ thriller is based on the 1955 novel of the same name by Jackson Budd and is set almost entirely around a railway journey. Stanmore station, terminus of the now long forgotten LMS suburban branch from Harrow & Wealdstone was used for some night shots, with an ex-LMS sleeping-car and Mk.1 parcels van No.1005 being borrowed from BR for the scenes. The various shots of expresses that appear throughout the course of the film are varied and mixed, though some are stock shots filmed originally for Train of Events (1949 qv). The shots are all taken at dusk or night, not ideal for loco identification, but seem to include a ‘Princess Royal’ 4-6-2 at London Euston, a ‘Jubilee’ Class 5XP leaving Euston with a titled express, an unknown train crossing a viaduct on an express (from Train of Events), one ‘Royal Scot’ passing over a level crossing (again from Train of Events), a couple of ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0’s, five different shots of rebuilt ‘Royal Scot’ or ‘Patriot’ 4-6-0’s, one ‘Jubilee’ 4-6-0, one ‘Duchess’ 4-6-2 and one BR ‘Britannia’ Class 7MT 4-6-2. Quite a good collection of historical shots that depict practically every type of former LMS express passenger loco! The ‘Britannia’ is the odd one out and was relatively new at the time. As the train is brought to an emergency stop, the bottom three-quarters of ex-LMS ‘Duchess’ Class 4-6-2 No.6253 City of St Albans briefly comes into view, a shot possibly taken from A Journey for Jeremy (1949 qv). A number of stations appear in these shots, which are unidentified, but there is a brief night shot of London Paddington station towards the beginning, though no trains are visible. Stanmore station, which appears to be called both ‘Northborough’ and ‘Hamwood’ in the film, had closed to passengers on 15th September 1952 but remained open for freight until July 1964. So, what of the film itself? Well, it really isn’t very good. The plot is flimsy and the acting bad, with some rather lame characters, but it is no worse than many B movie shorts that were produced at the time, which makes The Flying Scot (qv) all the more exceptional. The sound effects are pretty good, if a little repetitive at times, and one does get the impression that a reasonable attempt was made at making the railway scenes work, but when the train initially departs, the sensation of movement is simply made by the guard walking backwards to board his van! Nevertheless, this cheap technique is surprisingly effective!! As the shots of the trains are at night only those which clearly show the locomotives are included below. There are also several other shots in the film of just the wheels and running gear of passing expresses and these too have been excluded.