Dir: Reginald Denham
Starring: John Loder and Lilian Oldland
Amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey clears a man on a murder charge
This well-made mystery thriller is another little gem from the 1930s which has, over time, been largely forgotten. For the railway enthusiast, it includes some great railway scenes. John Loder follows the murderer by train to Stratford and corners him in the locomotive works where a fight ensues. First, we see scenes filmed at London Liverpool Street station with good views of a departing train, the LNER coaching stock of which displays ‘CONTINENTAL TRAIN’ roofboards. There then follows an arrival of a similar train behind LNER Class B12 4-6-0 No.8542, with a small tank engine bringing a train into an adjacent platform. Another departure then follows, though the arrival at Stratford behind an N7 Class 0-6-2T is in actual fact Liverpool Street again! The excellent fight scene was shot at night in Stratford Works, with powerful arc lights set up to help highlight the scene. Star of the show is LNER Class N7/3 0-6-2T No.2616 with a ‘CHESHUNT’ destination board on its bunker. The loco is in steam when John Loder waylays the villain and knocks the regulator in to forward. The loco then slowly moves forward, forcing the two men into an inspection pit as it passes over them, before gently crashing through the shed doors. Apparently, the doors were old and required replacement anyway, so what better way to remove them than to have a loco crash right through them! Other locos visible in this sequence include a rare glimpse of an LNER D16/3 ‘Super Claud’ 4-4-0 in the form of No.8788, and an LNER J17 Class 0-6-0 aloft on a crane hoist without its tender. There are also plenty of open plank wagons in these scenes. It should be noted that the scenes filmed onboard the train appear to use the real thing and not a stage recreation, which would have been unusual for the time. The film was based on an original story written by Dorothy L. Sayers specifically for the screen and was the first film outing for Sayers’ fictional amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, played rather well in this movie by Peter Haddon. The officially released version ran to 75 minutes though most versions available today have been rather reduced, with a running time of barely 54 minutes. None the less, this still includes all the railway footage.