All Aboard The Flying Scotsman

All Aboard The Flying Scotsman

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Optimum Releasing 

Release date: February 28th 2011
Certificate (UK): PG
Running time: 57 minutes

Year of production: 1929

Director: Castleton Knight

Cast: Moore Marriott, Pauline Johnson, Ray Milland, Alec Hurley

Films about trains might not sound all that appealing, yet they’ve played a big part in some very interesting stories over the years, for example Murder On The Orient Express (1974), based on the Agatha Christie novel, the original Taking Of Pelham 123 (1973) and even a Bollywood disaster film with The Burning Train (1980).

Recent years however have not offered that many great train stories, perhaps with the exception of The Polar Express (2004), so it’s with that we jump back in time to The Flying Scotsman to see how death defying stunts and new technology were combined to create a film which fuels impassioned discussions even today.

The Flying Scotsman

It’s about an elderly driver, Bob (Moore Marriott) who’s set to retire from working on the Flying Scotsman, but before he can do so, a disgruntled employee, Crow (Alec Hurley), returns to take revenge on him. Bob earlier reported him for drinking on the job and as a result, Crow was sacked.

With the train on its way to Edinburgh from London, Bob and Crow’s new replacement, Jim (Ray Milland), must find a way to stop the Flying Scotsman from heading toward a disaster which Crow is determined to cause.

Added to the mix is Joan (Pauline Johnson), Bob’s daughter who just happens to be on the train and has taking a liking to Jim, much to her father’s disdain. Filmed while in motion, there’s a moment where we see Joan walking along the outside edge of the carriage wearing high heeled shoes. This probably thrilled and terrified audiences as much as Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1896).

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman starts off as a silent movie with speech captions to show dialogue placement but halfway through audiences hear recorded voices. It’s at first a jarring experience if you haven’t seen the film before.

There’s been a lot of debate as to whether or not The Flying Scotsman predates Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929) as the first full length British talkie, but the BFI film database notes that the soundtrack was added in March 1930.

First or second, it doesn’t really matter because The Flying Scotsman stood the test of time and will surely continue to do so long after its centenary in 2029.

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