The Titfield Thunderbolt

The Titfield Thunderbolt

classified U

Celebrating Slocombe


Please note: This was screened in July 2016

Charles Crichton
Stanley Holloway, George Relph, Naunton Wayne
84 mins, 1953, UK

A delightfully comic tale of community spirit, the first colour Ealing comedy is set in the fictional chocolate box village of Titfield, a place where cricket, real ale, cider (probably) and country squires can be found in abundance. Everything seems fine until the announcement that the local railway is going to close, so the villagers take it upon themselves to run it - only to face stiff competition from the local bus company. Can they keep the service on tracks?

After the success of Douglas Slocombe's work on Ealing's first colour film (Saraband for Dead Lovers), Slocombe returned to colour by making The Titfield Thunderbolt, their first colour comedy, and the plan was very simple. Director Charles Crichton (who also made The Lavender Hill Mob) wanted an idealised country village set within an even more idealised English countryside, and Slocombe gave him that.

Taking possible influences from the famous national railway posters, Slocombe gave the film an essence of nostalgia. As well as being filmed in Oxfordshire and London, much of it was shot in and around the area between Limpley Stoke and Camerton, Somerset, with a cameo from Bristol Temple Meads to boot. For young and old this is a fun journey (starring Sid James, John Gregson, Stanley Holloway, Naunton Wayne and George Relph amongst others) through a world of cricket greens, thatched roofs, country pubs and - most importantly of all - steam trains!