1hr 44mins
Dirs: John Olden and Claus Peter Witt
Starring: Horst Tappert and Hans Cossy

A recreation of the 1963 Great Train Robbery told in almost documentary style from the view of the robbers

This obscure film was originally made for German television as a three-part mini-series under the title Der Postzug-berfall (‘The Mail Train Raid’) and was not released in the UK at the time. No doubt the film was deemed somewhat insensitive, it being only four years after the actual robbery having taken place, though The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery (qv) appeared a year earlier and mocked the situation somewhat. The problem seemed to stem from the fact that the villains were clearly and definitively portrayed in the film, despite the change of names. The fact that the film was being recorded in some secrecy under the title Die Gentlemen Bitten zur Kasse (‘Gentlemen Prefer Cash’) made no difference. The producers had permission to film on the DB railway network but did not inform the authorities what the movie was about, yet despite the film being a German production there are some British railway scenes, though the continuity is very poor. As the opening credits roll we see shots of Class 40’s passing through the now closed Eglinton Street station in Glasgow, one of which looks to be D257. Although these are pretty good they are then followed by a shot of 4 CEP EMU No.7155 passing through Folkestone West! The opening sequence ends at London St Pancras where we get to see two Class 45’s, with differing headcodes. The robbery sequence has a very improbable railway journey, not to mention the inaccuracy of the robbery itself. The sequence starts with the mail leaving ‘Glasgow’ behind a Class 45, which is actually an express leaving St Pancras again, and this is followed by four night shots of Class 40 hauled expresses on the West Coast main line, one of which has a pair double-heading. The gang then rig up a false signal to stop the train and as the scene was filmed in Germany, the train is now made up of continental rolling stock and arrives behind a DB V200 Class diesel-hydraulic (V200-050 for those interested) complete with mock BR emblem on its side!! The German coaching stock is in Royal Mail livery and the cabsides of the loco have wholly spurious E II Royal ciphers. The production team even erected a ‘Sears Crossing’ sign at the side of the railway!! The English railway scenes do not end here, however. There is a later scene showing Horst Tappert boarding a train at Folkestone West, again formed of 4 CEP EMU’s with unit 7124 leading on this occasion. Finally, several electric units are visible in a climatic chase sequence across the rooftops and through the London streets, and these are probably 4 SUB’s. Having been released as a three-part mini-series in Germany, it appears to have then been edited into a single film for eventual UK theatrical release but it is a very shoddy production that, unsurprisingly, lies virtually forgotten.

This is a Class 40 passing through Eglinton Street station in Glasgow. This must be stock footage from somewhere as the film was released in 1967, two years after the station had closed on 1st February 1965. Strange, too, that although St Pancras masquerades in the film as ‘Glasgow’, we do actually get to see a station in Glasgow!
A parcels train is hauled through Eglinton Street by a Class 40. This is the best we see of the locomotive but it looks to be No.D257.
The progress of the train is followed as it passes through the station
There is one scene filmed onboard a train during which a line of box vans passes by outside
4 CEP EMU No.7155 brings up the rear of a train at Folkestone West. From Scotland to Kent!!
A Class 45 awaits departure from London St Pancras
This, however, is a good shot. A Class 45 leaves St Pancras and crosses the Regents Canal whilst working 1N33. This is a split headcode example……
….whilst this example has a centre headcode. This is the same Class 45 as seen in the first shot at St Pancras, now departing on 1H14 with steam heat pipe blowing off.
There are four shots of WCML expresses at night, and all are in the hands of Class 40’s This is probably the best example.
Railway staff raise the alarm. The view outside the window looks suspiciously like a UK railway station.
4 CEP EMU No.7124 arrives into Folkestone West on a headcode 5 service, London Cannon Street to Margate via Orpington and Dover Priory
Passengers board the train at Folkestone West
As one of the robbers makes a daring escape across the rooftops, a 4 SUB EMU passes by
In this final shot back at street level, an electric unit is partly obscured by the bridge on which it is running
Just for the record, this is German Railways V200-050 with mock British Railways emblem applied
The mocked-up Sears Crossing sign, the actual location where the crime took place. For such a secretive production this is less than subtle.