When heavy fog prevents all aircraft from leaving London airport, a group of passengers take an airline bus to get them to an alternative airport. However, one among their number is the ... See full summary »
When heavy fog prevents all aircraft from leaving London airport, a group of passengers take an airline bus to get them to an alternative airport. However, one among their number is the mastermind behind a bullion robbery at the airport... and particularly keen to escape the fog! Written by
British comedian Frankie Howerd, best known to TV fans as the star of the historical satire Up Pompeii, makes his feature film debut alongside Margaret Rutherford, George Coulouris, Belinda Lee and English songstress Petula Clark. Howerd plays Percy Lamb, a novice bus driver, who, as London is submerged in thick fog, is assigned to drive the number "13" coach from London airport to another a couple of hours away. With his half dozen or so passengers along for company, Percy promptly gets lost! But that's not the worst of their worries. For in the boot is a load of stolen gold bullion and the master criminal known as "The Banker" is amongst them and will do anything to get their hands on the loot. But just who is "The Banker?". It's written and directed by Val Guest whose writing work for the likes of Will Hay, Arthur Askey and The Crazy Gang puts him firmly on the list of classic British comedy writers.
Safe and inoffensive fun is The Runaway Bus, very much along the lines of Walter Forde's The Ghost Train (Guest writing there too), it zips along apace and is awash with gags both visually and orally. Maybe somewhat surprising, considering all those involved with it, it's probably with its "who is it" core where the film is at its best. Blending comedy with mystery thriller elements can often be a tricky task for some film makers, but thankfully here Guest and his team play it right. There's no obvious hints to who the "baddie" is, thus the element of surprise is high, and the staging of the second half of the movie at a fog enveloped army training range makes for a nice atmospheric feel. There's no great shakes in the acting, but they all are safe and doing what is required. Rutherford of course is the standout performer, while Howerd is only hinting at the ability that would in the years to come make him a much loved comedian in the United Kingdom.
Widely available on DVD now, it will be annoying to some that the transfer is rough and not afforded a clean up. Full of snap, crackle and pop, it does carry a bit of old fashioned value in that respect. But those interested in the DVD should stay away if scratchy old transfers are to be an issue. 7/10
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