Terror on a Train 1953

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

This started out as a movie I was reviewing on YouTube. Halfway through grabbing screen caps, they took the video down, so I went out and bought the DVD. MUCH better scans that way. The title is rather misleading. The original name, “Time Bomb”, is more accurate as this movie evokes suspense rather than terror.

Filmed in Great Britain, Glenn Ford stars as the Canadian bomb expert Peter Lyncort, recruited to (hopefully) find and disarm a saboteur’s incendiary device on a trainload of mines headed to the Royal Navy at Portsmouth.

Even in the misty murk of a black and white picture, I was able to identify no less than four English steam locomotives. French actress Anne Vernon plays the saucy wife of Glenn Ford, “Janine”, so the movie is not a complete weinerfest. Diffusing a bomb has got to be a perishable skill. Let’s see if ol’ Peter still has what it takes…

Here’s a movie poster for the original title. It looks like Glenn Ford is throwing a football; LOTS of interesting detail on the EXPLOSIVES placard.

As the opening credits play, we see shiny, new mines rolling off the assembly line, loaded onto gondolas and tarped up for their rail voyage.

A class 8f 2-8-0 steam locomotive #48600 is racing through the night. Passing through Birmingham, a shadowy figure emerges from under the tarps. It’s The Saboteur! (played by Victor Maddern) who tumbles off the train after suspiciously monkeying around with the lading.

Well, I don’t need to tell you that the Bobbies are on the job including Constable Charles Baron (played by John Horsley) who quickly accosts the miscreant. Unfortunately, The Saboteur gets the better of him and makes his escape through a beautifully-backlit railyard set.

Undeterred, Constable “Chuck” puts the word out and quickly the railway has Bobbies checking the ticket offices and up in the interlocking tower at Felsworth East, the signalman sets the signal to stop and grabs some detonators to put on the track.

Coming to a stop is #48600 and the towerman explains he’s going to back their train out of the way, so it can be examined.

Interlude: “I am bored!” shouts Janine to the amused Peter. To emphasis her point, Janine plops her suitcase in Pete’s lap and howls, “I am leaving you!!” She misses Paris, you see, and wants to go back for a visit. Or something like that.

Meanwhile, the driver and firemen of 48600 are backing the explosives train into a siding. Nice view of the guard’s van. According to IMDb Trivia, scenes of the bomb being defused were filmed on, “the railway line between Walsall and Wolverhampton, England, UK.”

They’ve pulled Peter Lyncort’s record and since he’s the best man for the job, soon find’s himself train-side. Janine has made it to the ticket counter “first class single to London, please”, but is informed there are no trains leaving for quite a while. She heads to the pub for a drink or two…

Deep into searching through the mines, Peter discovers a bundle of newspaper. Is this a bomb? Carefully opening the package, he finds a half-eaten sandwich and bottle of Heineken. Red herring!

Comes the dawn, he has enlisted the help of Inspector Jim Warrilow (played by Maurice Denham). That’s a LOT of mines to go through! “11 cars to go and 2 hours to make it.”

It’s 5:22am at Portsmouth station. Right on time is the train from Oxford. Chuck is looking over the arriving passengers for The Saboteur (I never forget a face). Great shots of the locomotive #30732, a London & South Western Railway T9 class 4-4-0.

With the passengers off the platform, notice the locomotive is now #30707! Same class of engine, and most likely filmed at another time (they’ll never notice).

Now 5:47am, here’s the train from London. Motive power is #31639, a Maunsell U Class 4P3F 2-6-0. Also at this (orange) link, sister engine (3)1638 has been preserved on the Bluebell Railway.

CLICK HERE for a picture of the actual locomotive in service.

Aha! That’s him! The Saboteur realizes the jig is up and takes off down the platform. Constable Chuck brings him down with a beautiful flying tackle.

Back at the minefield, time is running short. “Peter, I think I’ve found something!”

Upon learning Peter is trying to disarm a bomb, Janine has a change of heart and hops in her spiffy little 1952 or 1953 MG TD, racing to be by his side. (Thanks for the I.D., Mark!)

Inspector Jim has indeed found something, as Peter carefully extracts the bomb from the mine; Get Back! But Janine won’t be deterred.

Now…which wire to cut?; Aaaaand the credits roll. I left out quite a bit of the finale as it is quite good with a wonderful twist at the end. You mean, “Boom Time?”. You’ll just have to stream this to see what actually happened. Not a bad movie, all-in-all.

Here’s what IMDb has to say about Terror on a Train:

If you have ANY information about this movie you’d like to share, please contact me at: Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com, or leave a comment.  Thanks and enjoy the blog!



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