20th Century Fox
It’s New Year’s Eve and former OSS agent Alan Holiday finds himself riding the Boat Train along with a bunch of swinging members of the “Bear Ski Club”. Alas, no bare ski bunnies appear in this film. Damn. Although mostly filmed at Shepperton Studios, the train quotient is adequate including some brief scenes loading the passenger cars onto the ferry.
My favorite set is the discotheque car with lots of dancing and noise and adult beverages. This stage doubles as a place to hide out from various rowdies and officials looking to do Agent Holiday serious harm or incarceration.
If this is starting to sound like a James Bond knock off, you’re right. Methinks Fox was trying to cash in on United Artists’ hugely-successful spy caper franchise.
Anyway. Let’s enjoy the train scenes for what they’re worth and perhaps beam on a few lovelies along the way. Tous à bord!
“Night Ferry for Paris, Brussels, Azusa and Cucamonga, now leaving on Track 2. All Aboarrrrrrd!”; 16 years before he appeared in Airplane! 1980, Leslie Nielsen (as Alan Holiday) was honing his comedy chops alongside Aliza Gur (as Catherine Carrel), the former Miss Israel 1960. Rahr-RAHR!
Our first train scenes occur about 21 minutes into the picture. Here we find ourselves on the platform of London’s Victoria Station where the Night Ferry is boarding. Aliza is chatting up Olive Davies (played by Dorinda Stevens) Yowza! Stumbling out of Baggage Claim comes Holiday.
Two good views of the train and station as a couple Scotland Yard types walk alongside. One of the Wagon-Lits sleepers is labeled as running London to Brussels. The guy in the bear costume is apparently the mascot of the Bear Ski Club (groan…) and also a confederate of Alan Holiday.
Rather spartan accommodations on the set of Leslie Nielsen’s sleeping car. He stashes a packet of reel-to-reel tape behind his window shade (the entire defense plans of free Europe!!). Yeah, you bet, there’s a lot of sinister types on board who’d LOVE to get their hands on that little prize.
Highball! With a shriek from it’s whistle, Night Ferry is off and running. British Rail ran steam until 1968, so a venerable iron horse is pulling tonight’s train out of Victoria Station.
Meanwhile, back in Olive’s compartment, her roommate Julie (played by Edina Ronay) is taking a selfie of the two of them! ;p Up in the bar car, the toothsome Aliza is chatting up Frank Drebin.
Upon reaching Dover, the train was loaded onto a ferry for transport across the English Channel to Dunkirk, France. Following are a series of pictures showing this process:
Standing on the ship, a crewman watches as the platform is lowered to match and lock onto the rail. The guard signals from his van and the engineer turns to push the carriages onto the boat.
The cars are slowly moved into position. Back in the discotheque car, the party is in full swing as the ship sets sail for La Belle France.
Happy New Year! After a bit of auld lang syne, the dance car is roaring along as Holiday steers Aliza through the crowd. Buy me a drink! Finally, the lovely leotard-wearing Julie appears (Zowie!) to dance the night away.
The train ferry has reached “Dunkerque” and is unloaded onto French soil. These are our last actual railroad pictures (apart from the studio train sets).
However, I can’t resist a couple shots of the finale. Look out, she’s got a gun! The snarling Miss Israel 1960 wants that tape! And Bear Suit guy turned out to be the eeee-vil “Krogh” (played with wonderful, simmering malice by Eric Pohlmann). He’s been playing cat and mouse with our hero Alan Holiday for the entire train trip.
You guys remember Krogh. He played “The Fat Man” in The Return of the Pink Panther 1975.
If you’d like to see how it turned out, Night Train to Paris is available on YouTube. Enjoy!
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Night Train To Paris:
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” British Rail ran steam until 1968, so a venerable iron horse is pulling tonight’s train out of Victoria Station.”
Although in reality, the Night Ferry went electric in 1959.