6.7/10
1,211
12 user 6 critic

Night Mail (1936)

Approved | | Short, Documentary | 1939 (Sweden)
Shows the special train on which mail is sorted, dropped and collected on the run, and delivered in Scotland overnight.

Directors:

Harry Watt, Basil Wright

Writers:

W.H. Auden, Hugh Westman (as Baron Westman Kenneth Westman)
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Photos

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Cast

Credited cast:
Arthur Clark Arthur Clark ... Engineer
John Grierson ... Commentary
Stuart Legg Stuart Legg ... Commentary
Robert Rae Robert Rae ... Senior Driver - LMS Railway
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Storyline

Shows the special train on which mail is sorted, dropped and collected on the run, and delivered in Scotland overnight.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Documentary

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The train is a night mail train yet some of the shots are in daylight. See more »

Quotes

Commentary: [Reciting W.H. Auden poem] Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder, Shovelling white steam over her shoulder, Snorting noisily as she passes, Silent miles of wind-bent grasses. Birds turn their heads as she approaches, Stare from bushes at her blank-faced coaches. Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course; They slumber on with paws across. In the farm she passes no one wakes, But a jug in a bedroom gently shakes...
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Connections

Featured in The 50 Greatest Documentaries (2005) See more »

User Reviews

 
NIGHT MAIL {Short} (Harry Watt & Basil Wright, 1936) ***
4 January 2014 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Unlike the WAR COMES TO America (1945) entry in the WHY WE FIGHT documentary series, this famed British effort in a comparable – if longer-running and, decidedly, less enthusing – cycle of "Transport" films has not stood well the test of time. I was even tempted to shave off another half-a-star to its rating, but I guess – much like a normal movie – one needs to assess such items within the context of the time in which they were made. In its case, too, one has to consider what it was attempting to do – both narratively (a depiction of the train service, often dependent on split-second timing, run at night by the Post Office throughout the United Kingdom) and technically (still, though much has been said of its adherence to the celebrated montage – generally frantic and frequently symbolic – typified by classic Soviet cinema, this is only intermittently evident here!). However, the justifiably lauded finale – edited to the rhythm of a W.H. Auden poem – remains exhilarating to watch.

For what it is worth, a certain amount of nostalgia played into this viewing – not only because we are basically watching a way-of-life that is fast approaching extinction (in the face of the technological wonders of our age), but due to the fact that my father used to work as a postman and, as a kid, I spent a good many Summer's day both at his office and on the road, observing and even helping out in the daily distribution of the local and international mail!


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

1939 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Courrier de nuit See more »

Filming Locations:

Crewe, Cheshire, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Visatone Marconi)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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