GB / US
Dir: Herbert Ross
Starring: Nicol Williamson and Vanessa Redgrave
To treat his friend’s cocaine induced delusions, Dr. Watson lures Sherlock Holmes to Vienna for a visit to Sigmund Freud
This lavish Anglo-American Sherlock Holmes story is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Nicholas Meyer, but it wasn’t all that popular. The high-point is a spectacular chase sequence where Holmes and Watson pursue a villain (the Pasha, played by Gertan Klauber) on a steam train. The elaborate sequence was filmed on the Severn Valley Railway with locomotives that were vaguely disguised to look Austrian. Ian Bramble, who worked on the line, contacted me to explain how this complex set of events played out. There were four locos disguised. BR Ivatt 2MT 2-6-0’s No.s 46443 and 46521 were both disguised as No.60.116, whilst ex-LMS Class 5MT ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No.45110 and ex-LMS 8F Class 2-8-0 No.8233 were both disguised as No.90.116. The two Ivatts were painted Furness Railway brick red and look somewhat ‘foreign’ in their appearance. They faced in opposite directions to each other as did the ‘Black Five’ and the 8F. This meant that they could create the impression of one loco going in different directions, hoping nobody noticed the difference in the number of wheels of 90.116 (which morphed from a 4-6-0 to a 2-8-0)! 46521’s bell and chime whistle were not removed so these can be used to identify which Ivatt is which. A temporary ledge was fitted to the cabside to enable the stuntman (Holmes) to get from the cab to the running board. This sequence is fast-paced and a particular joy to watch, though it is not without process errors. The two trains converge on adjacent tracks even though Holmes has stated there are no points to do so, whilst the semaphore signal for the track on which the Pasha’s train runs is at ‘stop’. Most of the Severn Valley was used, and the scene where the two trains converge onto the same section of track necessitated the relaying of part of the old Stourport-on-Severn branch at Bewdley for aerial shots. The Pasha’s train was formed of two bogie-bolster wagons with plywood bodies attached, plus a funny little four-wheel open baggage truck, all painted in mock Pullman livery. Holmes’ train featured a similar carriage in red, and it is this carriage which gets broken up for firewood to supply fuel for the loco in a hilarious sequence of events. Recognisable locations on the Severn Valley Railway include Hampton Loade station, Bewdley station (which masqueraded as ‘Aspern’), Oldbury Viaduct between Bridgnorth and Eardington, the 44-yard long Knowlesands Tunnel, and the longer Bewdley Tunnel. Another station masqueraded as ‘Ortli’, but only a fleeting glimpse is seen at night so its exact identity remains a mystery though it could be Hampton Loade again. Several other locomotives are captured in these scenes, most notably ex-GWR 4500 Class 2-6-2T No.4566, ex-LNER K4 Class 2-6-0 No.3442, and ex-GWR 0-6-0ST No.813. The Austrian-Italian border post is located at the Bewdley end of the Victoria Bridge, but the pursuit continues after Holmes’ train smashes through the checkpoint barrier. Ian Bramble also gave some interesting footnotes regarding the filming. 46443 retained its 60.116 identity for a year after filming in order to generate publicity, but this unfortunately did not happen. Also, the ‘carriages’ that were broken up were built on two, 4-wheeled wagons that the film company bought from BR. These were ‘Flat ED’s’ No.s B906825 and B906830. After filming was over, they left them behind, and when asked when were they going to come and collect them they said they didn’t want them and that the SVR could keep them! They did, and they survive on the line to this day! Often overlooked is the earlier period scene filmed at York station with SECR D Class 4-4-0 No.737 and LNWR ‘Precedent’ Class 2-4-0 No.790 Hardwicke on trains. The pair were borrowed from the National Collection and are present in the station among much smoke and steam.