Saving the Titfield Tradition
"The Titfield Thunderbolt" is a whimsical little comedy from Ealing Studios which like others from the studio was about the little man taking on the big man. In many ways because that central theme is eternal as now we have small towns fighting to protect their heritage from redevelopment and big stores stealing the trade from small independent shops that it still works. Well for that reason and that we not only get a recognizable cast of Ealing regulars but plenty of quaint comedy which just makes you smile.
The Titfield to Mallingford line has been running for ever and the town relies on it. So when the Ministry for Transport decide to close the line and station down they feel a need to do something about it especially as the unscrupulous bus company run by Pearce & Crump plan to monopolise on the situation. Given a month's trial the community rally round to show that they can run the train line themselves even when the unscrupulous Pearce & Crump with the help of steam roller driver Hawkins (Sid James) try to sabotage their efforts.
So as pointed out Ealing Studios used the David versus Goliath theme a few times and in "The Titfield Thunderbolt" that theme is the small community of Titfield trying to preserve their precious train line partly out of tradition but also out of preserving their peaceful village roads from the bus service. But whilst that means that most of the movie is about the community trying to make it a success whilst the bus company owners try to sabotage them it is also about them getting one over the Ministry of Transport who want them to fail. And that means lots of daft fun from the community pushing the train carriages to make it look it is moving to general bickering between various characters. It is amazing to think that whilst now 60 years old the general theme of a community rallying around to save their heritage still touches peoples hearts.
And it is also the comedy which touches people's hearts from the daft such as when the train and the steam roller start ramming each other to stealing a train when theirs is sabotaged. And the reason why this works is down to the wonderful cast which has been gathered together with the likes of Stanley Holloway, Hugh Griffith and John Gregson all delivering charming and funny performances with Sid James stealing the few scenes he is in as Hatch the steam-roller driver.
But what seals things of is that "The Titfield Thunderbolt" is beautiful, the colouring is wonderful and the camera work by Douglas Slocombe is stunning. At times you can get lost in how gorgeous this 60 year old movie looks especially if you are a fan of old trains.
What this all boils down to is that "The Titfield Thunderbolt" is another glorious gem from the Ealing Studios which once again uses the David versus Goliath storyline to great comedic effect.