THE WHITE CLIFFS MYSTERY

GB
1957
32mins
Dir: Montgomery Tully
Starring: Russell Napier and Yvonne Andre

Scotland Yard detectives investigate the suspicious death of a rocket scientist, only to discover that he was being blackmailed by his secretary

This short crime film was part of the Scotland Yard series, a series of 39 episodes produced by Anglo-Amalgamated between 1953 and 1961. They are short films, largely half-hour in length, that were originally made to support the main feature in a cinema double-bill. Each film focused on a true crime case, with only the names changed, and featured an introduction by the crime writer Edgar Lustgarten. The White Cliffs Mystery was No.25 in the series. These films should not be confused with the BBC television series of the same name broadcast in 1960 which are unrelated. The White Cliffs Mystery features quite a bit in the way of railway footage that starts with a body being flung from a train as it passes through a station. This sequence begins with a Southern Region express heading into a tunnel hauled by a BR Standard Class 5MT 4-6-0. There is then a scene filmed at an unknown station on the Southern Region where an S15 Class 4-6-0 can be seen standing in the background. The express then comes through the station, still hauled by the Standard, and a body comes sliding along the platform, much to the porter’s dismay. Later there is a shot of the concourse at Waterloo followed by a scene filmed in carriage sidings where the police undertake their preliminary investigations. The external scenes of the fictional ‘Seahaven’ station used Hastings. Finally, at the end there is a shot of a train which is supposed to be a flashback depicting the train on which the crime occurred. However, it is coming OUT of the tunnel, and is hauled instead by ‘King Arthur’ Class N15 No.30448 Sir Tristram. This is then followed by a repeat of the earlier shot of the BR Standard coming through the station with the body sliding along the platform. All quite dramatic really. Interestingly, this grizzly sequence briefly reappeared in The Ghost Train Murder, Scotland Yard series film No.31 – which see.

A Southern Region express speeds past a junction hauled by a BR Standard Class 5MT 4-6-0. The two white discs at 12 and 6 o’clock on the front of the smokebox are a clue, as is the fact that the railway here is not yet electrified, yet despite this I have been unable to tie down the location exactly.
The train disappears into the tunnel
This is the as yet unknown station where the real action takes place. Again, it is somewhere on the un-electrified part of the Southern.
The porter goes about his business as an S15 Class 4-6-0 stands in the background
The express approaches the station at speed
The express comes thundering through. Although the station is unidentified the express is a good piece of continuity. It is hauled by a Standard 5MT, again with headcode discs at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. This shot was repeated in The Ghost Train Murder.
As the express hurtles through the body is thrown out and slides along the platform
The poor unsuspecting porter who was witness to the whole event checks the body for any signs of life. It would be interesting to know where this death scene was played out.
The police arrive into Waterloo station. This is the first time I have seen anyone drive a car onto the concourse!
These are the carriage sidings where the police carry out their examination of the coach. The location isn’t known, but notice the very old coach body grounded against the wall in the right hand background.
This is the entrance to the old Hastings station, playing the part in this instance of ‘Seahaven’. The name is a clear combination of Seaford and Newhaven.
The police make enquiries outside Hastings station. The fabulous art-deco building that looked very much like a cinema was inexcusably demolished to be replaced by a modern edifice in glass and concrete.
We are back where we started for this final scene. An express hauled by ‘King Arthur’ Class 4-6-0 No.30448 Sir Tristram bursts out of the tunnel on an express. This flashback scene uses a different locomotive leaving the tunnel, though the headcode is the same.