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A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Titfield Thunderbolt - in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 1999
Real Name
Robert Harris
Unlike here in the Colonies, three-strip Technicolor was in relatively short supply in the UK in the early days, even though it is generally acknowledged that some of the finest three-strip work came from Technicolor London, via the Powell-Pressburger entity, The Archers.

When one thinks of UK Technicolor, beyond the obvious Archers titles, such as The Red Shoes, Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, Tales of Hoffman, et al, one must take a good look to find those of great importance and beauty.

Early on, the great Freddie Young, with William Skall, shot Victoria the Great in 1937, along with Wings of the Morning.

1938 saw The Divorce of Lady X, The Drum (Drums), and Sixty Glorious Years (Young again).

1939, one of the greatest years for the process - The Four Feathers, The Mikado, Over the Moon.

1940 - The Thief of Bagdad (completed in Hollywood because of the war).

The war brought things to a veritable halt, with several UK productions either filmed or completed in Hollywood.

The UK productions that continued were...

1943 - The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (if you don't have a copy, grab one from Criterion).

1944 - The David Lean directed, This Happy Breed.

1945 - Lean, once again, with Blithe Spirit, as well as Caesar and Cleopatra, directed by Gabriel Pascal.

Post-war, things began to move forward.

1946 - The Laughing Lady, London Town, A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven), Men of Two Worlds.

1947 - Black Narcissus, Blanche Fury, An Ideal Husband.

1948 - Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Red Shoes, Scott of the Antarctic.

1949 - The Blue Lagoon (gorgeous Technicolor, shot by Geoffrey Unsworth), Maytime in Mayfair, Saraband for Dead Lovers, Under Capricorn.

1950 - The Elusive (Fighting) Pimpernel, Treasure Island, Gone to Earth (The Wild Heart).

1951 - The African Queen, I'll Never Forget You (sequences), The Magic Box, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, Tales of Hoffman, Where No Vultures Fly (Ivory Hunter).

1952 - The Importance of Being Ernest, Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man (exteriors), Saturday Island, The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men.

1953 - The Master of Ballantrae, Gilbert and Sullivan, The Titfield Thunderbolt.

1955 - The Ladykillers

Going through the list, which I do not set forth as complete, the point should be made that UK productions weren't particularly common.

The Titfield Thunderbolt, produced at the end of the three-strip era, was the first for Ealing, and is the subject of these few words.

A delightful film, and typically British in every aspect, about the townspeople of Titfield protecting the coming closure of a rail branch line.

Titfield looks quite nice on Film Movement's new Blu-ray, but isn't what it might be. Presumably produced from an extant dupe, and not the original three-strip, one runs into the vagaries of color. Generally, things look quite nice, while at certain points the entire image takes on a bit of a plus yellow look, which is correctable.

Registration is what it is, which is often a bit out, as the element appears to be an older Eastman dupe.

It's a film that deserves a proper digital recombine, but that shouldn't be the problem of a licensee. It's Canal that should see to it.

One other small problem seems to be in place, which is slight off-sync, presumably correctible on players if one finds it troublesome.

All in all, I'm pleased to finally have Titfield on a domestic Blu-ray, although knowing what the film could look like, I long for the hanging gardens of Cordoba...

Hats off to Film Movement for bringing UK treasures to the Colonies.

Image - 3.25

Audio - 4

Pass / Fail - Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Yes




Feb 8, 2015
Real Name
I love this film and have the UK Blu by Studio Canal, where the yellow bias is noticeable. Thankfully, the delightful dottiness of the movie itself and the otherwise rich visuals more than compensate for its ‘vagaries of color’.

Thank you for that informative chronology of British three-strip productions. The Network label in the UK has released a good few of the films you noted on Blu-ray with reasonable results - including the Freddie Young Queen Victoria films.

There tends to be less mention of Network on these boards than other UK mainstays such as BFI, Eureka and more recently Indicator; however Network’s been around forever and provides a rich catalogue of British productions, both film and TV.

Angelo Colombus

Senior HTF Member
Mar 19, 2009
Chicago Area
Real Name
Angelo Colombus
My favorite Ealing film and the first one I saw when it was shown on my local PBS station in the late 1970's. It looks the same compared to my UK disc but the new release comes with a nice booklet.

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