7.1/10
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50 user 22 critic

The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 20 October 1953 (USA)
Volunteers take over their local passenger train service (against bus company resistance) when the government announces its closure.

Director:

Charles Crichton

Writer:

T.E.B. Clarke (original screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Stanley Holloway ... Valentine
George Relph George Relph ... Weech
Naunton Wayne ... Blakeworth
John Gregson ... Gordon
Godfrey Tearle ... The Bishop
Hugh Griffith ... Dan
Gabrielle Brune Gabrielle Brune ... Joan
Sidney James ... Hawkins
Reginald Beckwith ... Coggett
Edie Martin ... Emily
Michael Trubshawe ... Ruddock
Jack MacGowran ... Vernon Crump (as Jack McGowran)
Ewan Roberts ... Alec Pearce
Herbert C. Walton Herbert C. Walton ... Seth
John Rudling John Rudling ... Clegg
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Storyline

The residents of a small English village are about to lose their ancient railroad. They decide to rescue it by running it themselves, in competition with the local bus company. Written by Blair Stannard <stannard@sonetis.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Comedy Hit of the Year! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The role of the pre-accident locomotive #1401 was played by two separate 14XX locomotives, facing in opposite directions to allow as much filming as possible. #1401 starred as herself while #1450 masqueraded as her sister with identical number-plates. Though #1401 was later scrapped, #1450 was preserved and today operates on steam railways throughout Britain. See more »

Goofs

When the locomotive is stolen from the turntable in the railway yard, it is able to negotiate the streets in the town and bends in the road out of town. This would not be possible as engines have no steering: the rails guide them and when cornering, there is a small amount of slip on the inside wheels. Even steering like a military tank (powering one side only) would not be possible as all the linkages and axles on the locomotive are fixed to drive together. See more »

Quotes

Sam Weech: We want the Titfield Thunderbolt.
George Blakeworth: Out of the museum?
Sam Weech: Yes, yes, she'll run. She's as good as she ever was. I'll stake my living on it!
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Connections

Featured in Forever Ealing (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

The Eton Boating Song
(uncredited)
Music by Algernon Drummond
Lyrics by William Johnson
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User Reviews

Delightful slice of post war optimism
29 November 2002 | by Slime-3See all my reviews

If you havn't watched this delightful piece of fun, just sit back and enjoy the ride. It's a great film. If you don't like railway locomotives, don't worry, there's so much more to it all than that. The story is a touch daft but very likeable, the characters are much the same as the story in that respect.The scenery is utterly gorgeous and the trains and buses take on a charming human aspect that makes this a kind of prototype, live-action THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE ! The comedy is typical of the Ealing studios at their very best.It's subtle, it's warm, it's wry and it's ironic.The script allows for suitably eccentric characterisation while remaining very British and amusingly restrained. However the premise of a village about to be cut off from it's railway lifeline is only too real. This film actually forecast the dreadfull effects of the Beeching railway massacre a decade later in Britain. Then, a whole century of incredible development in public transport was literally wiped out at the whim of the infamous government hit-man, Dr Beeching. A notorious character who slashed away the infrastructure so carefully created by men of vision as a sop to political morons unable to see beyond the bottom line of a balence sheet. At the time THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT was filmed the full effects of line closures on rural hamlets was still some way in the future and perhaps now, in hindsight,having seen the truth of it all, the film gains an ironic and touching element that it probably never had on release. I have heard that the film has only gained it's cult status in later years, and didn't actually do that well at the box office when released. Perhaps the story simply rings more truly now than it did then, or maybe it's simply the glorious look of rural 1950s England that has increased it's appeal over the decades? The central concept of the entire village pulling together - and paying - to keep the line open by running it themselves is sadly one quite alien to the rural England of the 21st century.Todays villages are part holiday-haven, part dormitary. The people who live their often can't find work nearby and many of the houses remain empty much of the time, used only as holiday cottages. The spirit of togetherness seen in the mythical Titfield has ebbed very quickly in the decades since the movie was made. I know, I have lived all my life in an area that suffered badly from 1960s railway-destruction! Back in the 1950s one could almost imagine the village spirit seen in the film, a peacetime spirit-of-the-blitz in fact. But not now. That adds yet more layers of whistful whimsy to the story, more concentration to the serious shot of nostalgea it supplies. Forget the petrol rationing and hardships of real life at the time,watch this film and you can't help wanting to live there! Charles Crighton's loving direction certainly makes the most of the rural locations in South Western England.Little vignettes of white horses frolicking if the fields and chaotic country stations suddenly taken over by runaway livestock give a honey tinted picture postcard vision of the English countryside. Pre-supermarkets and road-humps a more perfect place is hard to imagine. It's almost a visual cliche and yet I know the actual locations still exist today and look very much the same. There is still a railway running through the valley and a canal that still carries boats.Maybe the picture postcard is not quite so unbelievable as it might seem? Say what you like about the film from a technicians or drama critics point of view, it's simply wonderfull to sit through as a human being. Enjoy.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 October 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blixten från Titfield See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)| Mono (Gaumont Kalee Recording)

Color:

Color (Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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