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Rent The Ghost Train (1941)

3.2 of 5 from 53 ratings
1h 23min
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Classic ghostly comedy, starring Arthur Askey and based on the play by 'Dad's Army' actor Arnold Ridley. When a group of mismatched train passengers are stranded at a rural station overnight, they soon hear of a sinister local legend telling of a ghostly train that passes through the area, ever since a terrible accident 43 years ago. Anyone who happens to gaze upon the train will face death and disaster. When the station master is suddenly found murdered, and when a disturbed young girl arrives from the local mental hospital, the passengers are thrown into further panic when they hear the roar of the approaching ghost train...
, , , , Carole Lynne, , , , , , ,
Edward Black
Marriott Edgar, Val Guest, J.O.C. Orton, Arnold Ridley
Network UK
Classics, Comedy, Horror
Release Date:
Run Time:
83 minutes
English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.37:1
B & W

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Reviews (2) of The Ghost Train

Stopping Service - The Ghost Train review by CH

Spoiler Alert

A familiar situation. Disparate people find themselves in a remote spot where danger threatens as the lamps go low and the rain heralds a storm. In the case of The Ghost Train (1941), the Shepherd's Bush studio re-created a Cornwall halt too far from Truro for the passengers to reach it that night.

All this derives from Arnold Ridley's play. Now a century old, it was first filmed in one of the late-Twenties Anglo-German productions (Hitchcock learnt from a stint in Berlin) and then in England by Water Forde in 1931. For many decades that version was thought lost but some of it has resurfaced. Meanwhile, the best-known incarnation is Forde's wartime re-make. This brings ration coupons and blackout curtains to a tale which turns around a couple about to marry, a temperance adherent with a pet parrot (Kathleen Harrison), ever-suave Raymond Huntley, along with Richard Murdoch. Proceedings are dominated by Arthur Askey who is on his way to a seaside season, and does not shy from vexing one and all with his gags, some of which are funny.

High in the credits is the terrific Linden Travers (she of “the buttocks over the billiard table”, as extolled by Graham Greene's 1937 review of Brief Extasy). Her arrival, as here and in The Lady Vanishes, is enough to rival that of any express. If the comedy is too broad for a thriller, it all makes for a diverting time. Most startling is the moment when Kathleen Harrison takes fright and is calmed by some of the whisky which a doctor keeps about his person. Liquor had never touched her lips but now she beams at the effect; to which Arthur Askey says, “wait till it reaches the junction!”

To continue the railway metaphor, how did that line ever get through?

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

1941 - Wartime - The Ghost Train - The Ghost Train review by AW

Spoiler Alert

Gainsborough Pictures working of a play written by Arnold Ridley , best known in his later years as Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army. This play has been a stalwart on stage for many years. I think I’ve seen two versions so far. Like all good mysteries, you shouldn’t remember the exact minutiae of the plot so that the script can be endlessly tinkered with to allow a single fixed set onstage, but here we have the luxury of multiple scenes, ON a train, OFF a train, ON the tracks, and IN a tunnel.

BBC radio comedian Arthur Askey was put into this film as the main star, possibly in an attempt to inject some humour into what is generally a perfectly constructed serious thriller. I began to wonder if perhaps it was a exercise in lifting cinema viewers’ spirits with dabs of comedy in the 2nd year of the war, but ultimately I felt it detracted from the suspense that should be mounting as the passengers deal with spending an unexpected night in the already spooky, rundown wayside station of Fal Vale. After all this IS a ghost story.

Askey’s partner on radio before the war and a foil for his somewhat annoying dialogue and jerky antics was the tall Richard “Stinker” Murdoch (and so listed in the credits – apparently the nickname Askey gave him that followed him most of his life) who was latterly known for his role as Uncle Tom, the brief-less barrister in chambers in Rumpole of the Bailey.

It’s ultimately an OK story, despite the script changes to accommodate the bumbling Askey. Other characters included Raymond Huntley, Peter Murray-Hill (marred to star Phyllis Calvert), Carole Lynne (who was a Lady, married to Lord Bernard Delfont) and Linden Travers (elder sister of Born Free’s Bill Travers). Offhand I did not recognise the other ladies, Betty Jardine or Katherine Harrison – but then so many were contract players for the studios and probably jogged along with busy careers. Carol Reed was due to direct but in the end the job was given to Walter Forde who had made another film version 10 years earlier. That one apparently was discovered after being missing for many years, but was in a poor state. I don’t know if that is now available to view – just thank goodness for film restoration specialists who are keen to get hold of any of these old complete films or TV shows and bring them to a new audience. That so many pieces in the long history of film have been lost through sheer neglect is astonishing. Even TV episodes and made-for-TV films up to the late 70s and into the 80s simply were not preserved or even considered worthy of keeping by institutions like the BBC – the masters were just chucked out. This film version is not wholly bad and may be worth a watch if you like 40s B&W movies. Askey doesn’t completely ruin it, in my head I briefly tried interposing fall-about Norman Wisdom in the role – oh heavens, No! Aargh – it really would have lacked any credulity. In the theatre it was much more scary.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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