Movie Mirrors Index

The Titfield Thunderbolt

(1953 c 84')

En: 6 Ed: 5

When the local train is shut down, citizens join together to make it run despite sabotage attempts by the bus company.

         The train in Titfield waits for a man to bring his load aboard while passengers complain they are late. A notice is put up that the railway is cancelled, and it is replaced by a modern bus. George Blakeworth (Naunton Wayne) and Squire Gordon Chesterford (John Gregson) tell Vicar Sam Weech (George Relph) that the railway has been shut down. He gives them drinks and says they can run it themselves. They wonder where they will get the money. They go to Walter Valentine (Stanley Holloway) for £10,000. Weech questions Dan Taylor (Hugh Griffith) about trains. George tells Valentine that it will continue to lose money, but he suggests that the train could open a bar.

         Inspector Clegg (John Rudling) is sent to investigate whether the operation of the train is justified. The bus and the train run at the same time, and the bus is blocked by a car. At a hearing a union man complains about the cheap labor. The inspector is skeptical; but George asks for a chance, and he gives them a probationary period of one month to see if the order closing them down should be made permanent.

         The vicar practices pulling the lever. Early in the morning an alarm wakes up the vicar. He goes to the train and finds that Seth (Herbert C. Walton) was there all night. Dan ignores his alarm, but Emily (Edie Martin) pokes him with a stick through the window. George comes to the station and buys a ticket. Dan stokes the fuel, and the vicar gets the engine running. Walter boards the train and sees the bar. He and George have a drink. The train stops, and the vicar persuades Dan to come back on the train. A loaded truck is on the track, and the train stops. The vicar says he will move it and does so with the train. Then Harry Hawkins (Sidney James) uses a steam roller to block the train, and they bang into each other. The train pushes it off. People get back on board, and they go on. Vernon Crump (Jack McGowran) feels defeated.

         Dan stops the train to retrieve a bird. The vicar and Dan see that a water tower has been sabotaged. The vicar makes all the passengers get off the train to get water. They run to a house and are thrown buckets and tubs. People carry water from the stream. Mrs. Blakeworth (Nancy O’Neil) tells Walter they are going to blow up, and he takes the liquor off the train. Dan pours the water in the engine and announces they are ready.

         They find they are running at a profit, and the vicar is concerned they might be nationalized. People crowd on the train. Vernon Crump asks George for a partnership, but he says no. At night a vehicle pulls the train, and George tells him to stop. The train gathers speed going downhill and runs off the track while George jumps off. Dan retrieves the liquor bottles. The vicar feels he is a failure because of the crime. Others are disappointed by the wreck and walk away, but Walter finds Dan drinking. Dan says he can get an engine. He and Walter travel on the rail using a hand pump. George tells the vicar he is under arrest, but the vicar says they can use the Titfield Thunderbolt from the museum. Dan and Walter sneak into a railyard and steal an engine which goes off the rails and through the town until it crashes into a large tree.

         George directs others who take the engine from the museum, but they still need cars. Dan and Walter are brought to the police station on numerous charges. In the morning the bishop, Ollie Matthews (Godfrey Tearle) is glad to see the vicar and the old engine. Dan and Walter are put in a police van which crashes into Crump’s bus. Crump says he did not do it. The inspector sees the train and goes on board. They take the train out. Police tell them to stop and demand they take the prisoners. Only a rope connects the engine to the cars, and they are already six minutes late. The inspector has the train stop for an emergency, and the rope breaks. The engine leaves the cars behind, and the inspector tells George to proceed. The engine finally stops. The vicar and the bishop push it. George gets people to push the cars. George asks Harry to help with his steam roller. The cars go downhill and run into the engine, and the vicar joins them. The train proceeds, and people see it and cheer. The train arrives at its destination a few minutes late; but George says they would be on time if the inspector had not stopped for an emergency. The inspector tells them to be more careful next time, and they celebrate their achievement.

         This madcap comedy celebrates the initiative and local cooperation that is able to overcome numerous challenges despite their various eccentricities.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

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