The Titfield Thunderbolt

1953

Comedy /

0
IMDb Rating 7.1

Synopsis


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1.60G
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English
/
84 min
P/S 68 / 125
1.01G
Normal
English
/
84 min
P/S 30 / 70

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by lewisrailway 10

As you may gather from my signature i have railways in my blood,so it is practically inevitable that i love this movie.However it is more than a simple comedy about a village trying to save its railway branch line,though that would be good enough.It is also a picture of a time when a way of life was about to disappear with the railways,a time when people had good manners and treated each other with respect.A time also when to love your country didn"t open you to the charge of xenophobia.The cast are just fabulous with Hugh Griffith as Dan being the funniest,and a youngish Sid James [who always looked 55] before his Carry On heyday!The star is the countryside in beautiful Technicolour and funnily enough my favourite scene is a minor one; its where a girl in a summer dress is running down a hill to see the "Thunderbolt" go past! Now some good news; a couple of years ago i set out to walk the Limpley Stoke-Camerton line where the line was filmed,and was amazed to find how much was unchanged.Apart from the missing track,the cricket field [with the road viaduct behind] was exactly the same and at Monkton Combe [Titfield] the huge iron gateposts are still there.Anyone wanting to do the same should alight at Freshford station near Bath,walk through the lovely village past "Mr Valentines House" then to Limpley Stoke Station and follow the line from there.Like the film you"ll love it!

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Reviewed by alexanderhughesreplies 8

This is a comedy with many of the traditional Ealing attributes - whimsy, cheerfulness, small-versus-big storyline - but it has aged far better than many of its sister titles from Ealing. This is because the film was made in rural England just before it changed forever. It features beautiful locations (around Bath in Somerset) and a stereotypical village of characters which must have seemed very normal in 1953, but which hardly exist today. I have seen this film many many times, but I have never got bored by it. It has taken on a new power over the last twenty years and it has undoubtedly grown in popularity. Why? It is a portrait of a lost world, where people greeted each other in the street, where trains ran (on time) through villages, where cars did not rule every road. The Titfield Thunderbolt, of all films, predicted back in 1953 what would happen if we got rid of our railways - and look how tragically it has been proved right. Watch this film as a window on that lost world, but don&#39;t forget to laugh! It is a great little comedy: fast paced, energetically acted, beautifully shot by Douglas Slocombe and directed with brio by Charles Crichton. Recommended to all.<br/><br/>For what it&#39;s worth, here are my top 8 Ealing Comedies. Pole position was easy, thereafter was hard:<br/><br/>1) Kind Hearts and Coronets 2) The Lavender Hill Mob 3) Whisky Galore 4) The Titfield Thunderbolt 5) The Man in the White Suit 6) The Ladykillers 7) Passport to Pimlico 8) Hue and Cry

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Reviewed by JamesHitchcock 9

This was one of only two Ealing comedies to be made in colour, the other being &quot;The Ladykillers&quot; from two years later. Although railways play an important part in both, the two films are very different. &quot;The Ladykillers&quot; is an urban black comedy which was made in dull, muted colours but could equally well have been made in black and white. &quot;The Titfield Thunderbolt&quot;, by contrast, is the sort of film that needs to be in colour. It is a joyful comedy, celebrating English rural life, and was shot against the background of beautiful, verdant West Country landscapes in late summer. (The wild flowers in the hedgerows suggest a date rather later than the June/early July when the story is ostensibly set). Appropriately for a film which opened in Coronation year, it has a notably patriotic tone.<br/><br/>The theory has been put forward that the Ealing comedies were intended as satires on &quot;Attlee&#39;s Britain&quot;, the Britain which had come into being after the Labour victory in the 1945 general election. Although Churchill&#39;s Conservatives had returned to power by the time &quot;The Titfield Thunderbolt&quot; was made in 1953, I think that the theory still applies to it because the new government accepted many of the reforms made by its predecessor and did not attempt to reverse them. One of the things that Attlee&#39;s government had done was to nationalise the railways, and the plot of the film revolves around an attempt by the new, nationalised British Railways to close a branch line between the (fictional) towns of Titfield and Mallingford.<br/><br/>A group of local people campaign to prevent the railway from being closed, and, when it becomes clear that BR will not listen to local opinion, decide to take over the line and operate it themselves. The leading lights in this campaign are the local Squire, whose great-grandfather originally built the line, and the eccentric local Vicar, who also acts as engine-driver. (A rascally local poacher is his fireman). The money for the enterprise is provided by a wealthy and hard-drinking landowner, Mr Valentine, whose main motivation is the idea that he can get a drink whenever he wants one. (In the 1950s the law imposed stringent closing-times on licensed premises, but licensing hours did not apply to bars on trains). The best performances come from Stanley Holloway (who also had important roles in &quot;Passport to Pimlico&quot; and &quot;The Lavender Hill Mob&quot;) as Valentine, George Relph as the Vicar and Hugh Griffith as Dan the poacher. Those familiar with the &quot;Carry On&quot; films will recognise Sid James as a steamroller driver.<br/><br/>Like two other Ealing comedies, &quot;Whisky Galore&quot; and &quot;Passport to Pimlico&quot;, this one deals with the theme of a small, close-knit community taking on the forces of bureaucracy. The film&#39;s satire, however, is not directed just at the bureaucrats of British Rail and the Ministry of Transport. As in &quot;The Man in the White Suit&quot; there are also satirical digs at the trade unions, portrayed as being more concerned with their own narrow interest than with the wider public good, and at business. The local bus company welcome the closure of the railway, which they see as an opportunity to increase their own profits. Much of the humour in the film derives from the bus company&#39;s increasingly frantic efforts to sabotage the railway, and the attempts of the railway enthusiasts to fight back. After their only steam engine is put out of action, they decide that the only way of keeping the railway in operation is to steal a veteran locomotive (the &quot;Thunderbolt&quot; of the title) from the local museum.<br/><br/>&quot;The Titfield Thunderbolt&quot; was, at one time, often regarded as one of the weaker Ealing comedies. It briefly became topical about a decade later when British Rail, under the chairmanship of Dr Richard Beeching, and with the encouragement of the notoriously pro-road and anti-rail Minister of Transport Ernest Marples, closed many branch lines across the country, but following the &quot;Beeching Axe&quot; and the growth of the &quot;car economy&quot; in the sixties and seventies, it began to look outdated. Enthusiasm for steam trains was seen as mere sentimental nostalgia. Today, however, the film looks very different in the light of modern concerns about global warming, congestion and the loss of countryside to the motorway network. There is a growing desire for local, community-based solutions to local problems. A film which once seemed like a reactionary fantasy of a Merrie England which never existed now seems far-seeing. Contrary to what Beeching and Marples might have thought, public transport, including the railways, still has an important part to play in the twenty-first century. &quot;The Titfield Thunderbolt&quot; is not just one of the most amusing of the Ealing series. It might also turn out to be one of the most prophetic. 9/10

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