Dir: David Paltenghi
Starring: Arthur Askey and Thora Hird
Two football-mad footplatemen are desperate to get back in time to see a match
This classic comedy was based on the 1953 play of the same name by Glenn Melvyn, who plays Askey’s firemen in the film. A Television spin-off series, Love and Kisses, appeared later in 1955. The now rather neglected comedy is set in Lancashire and sees Askey playing the part of an engine driver and as a result trains are central to the plot in the same way that they are in The Railway Children (qv). The opening scenes feature Askey and Melvyn racing their freight train home so that they can get to a football match in time. This uses a lot of ‘phantom ride’ shots, including entering a smoke-filled tunnel, passing a station and a signal box, though the locations are not known. The freight is made up of an ex-LMS Class 4F 0-6-0 with a rake of mixed wagons – a speeded up shot repeated three times. The shed scenes were filmed at Newton Heath depot, Manchester, with a fine shot of ex-LMS Class 4F 0-6-0 No.44543 on the turntable. Many open coal wagons are visible, as well as Tool Van No.DM395097, before Askey and Melvyn mount a motorbike and ride it through the shed. There are ex-LMS ‘Black Fives’ in the yard, and possibly some 8F 2-8-0s, whilst a WD ‘Austerity’ 2-8-0 is visible inside the shed. After this, the errant pair then sneak into the back of a football ground via the adjacent railway line and an ex-LMS Class 2P 4-4-0 passes on a passenger train. This was Bolton’s Burnden Park. Not all the film was shot in Lancashire, however, as in one scene where Askey leaves the family home with Melvyn, a GWR signal box is seen in the background with an ex-GWR tender loco passing. This was filmed from The Crescent in Southall which has made a number of appearances in feature film. There is also the ubiquitous stock-shot from Brief Encounter (qv) of an unrebuilt ‘Royal Scot’ 4-6-0 passing Watford Junction, and a couple more shed scenes feature later on, with 4F No.44543 visible once again along with a darkened glimpse of a Stanier 2-6-4T and another WD ‘Austerity’ 2-8-0. At ‘Milford Junction’ shed, almost certainly Newton Heath again, there is the back end of an ex-LMS Class 5MT Mogul 2-6-0 (though it could be a ‘Crab’) and another departmental coach visible. The climax of the film is a wonderfully enjoyable farce. Askey is keen to get to a match on which he has bet money and ties an ‘explosives’ sheet over one of the wagons of his freight so as to get a clear run from the signalmen who think his train is a dangerous runaway. No.44543 is again the locomotive and there are a number of repeated passing shots on a line somewhere in the north west, a station run through, and an apparently random shot of an ex-LMS Class 5MT ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 on a passenger train entering a tunnel, a shot also seen in reverse. In fact, this sequence uses a number of stock shots – three shots of LMS ‘Jubilee’ Class 5XP No.5553 Canada making its emergency stop for the 1938 film I See Ice (qv), and a close up of an LMS Class 5MT ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 on a passenger service. The final shots of Askey’s 4F arriving behind the football ground by a signal box, were filmed at Burnden Park, the then home of Bolton Wanderers F.C. There is an interesting epilogue to all these shenanigans. Having been told by management that he will never drive a train again, Askey proves them wrong, grinning at the audience whilst in charge of a miniature railway. The train is made up of a Bassett-Lowke steam locomotive with two open carriages and was believed to have been filmed at Ruislip Lido.