On December 20, New York-based Film Movement are releasing Blu-rays of Ealing Studios classics The Titfield Thunderbolt and Passport to Pimlico. The Ealing Studios output from the 1940s and 1950s helped define the Golden Age for British Cinema. It fostered the great directors such as Alexander Mackendrick and Robert Hamer and stars like Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers Stanley Holloway, Hugh Griffith, and Margaret Rutherford.
From Charles Crichton, the director of The Lavender Hill Mob and A Fish Called Wanda, The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953, 84 minutes), the first Ealing comedy to be made in color, tells the story of the inhabitants of Titfield, who endeavor to prove that their single-track railway is the only form of transport for the village. The villains of the piece are two unsavory characters who have introduced a smart brand new single-decker bus to Titfield. Crump and Pearce, owners of the bus company, are determined to cease the running of the Titfield train, by fair means or foul. The film starred Ealing regulars including Stanley Holloway, Naunton Wayne, George Relp, John Gregson and Hugh Griffith. Extras on the Blu-ray include, “Making the Titfield Thunderbolt”, “The Lion Locomotive” and a Locations featurette, Home Movie Footage from Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, Slocombe on Charles Crichton audio interview, the original trailer and an archival stills gallery.
Starring Stanley Holloway, Hermione Baddeley, Margaret Rutherford and Paul Dupuis, Passport to Pimlico (1949, 84 minutes) is one of the most whimsically charming Ealing films from director Henry Cornelius (The Galloping Major). When an accidental explosion of an undetonated WWII German bomb unearths a buried cellar containing both fabulous riches and an unknown royal charter from King Edward IV that cedes the surrounding land to the last Duke of Burgundy, the town of Pimlico is turned upside down. Since the charter has never been rescinded, the London district of Pimlico is now legally the long-lost Duchy of Burgundy, and therefore no longer subject to British law, including postwar rationing and pub closure hours. The locals, quick to see the opportunities, do their best to take full advantage of the situation. Extras include a Locations featurette with Film Historian Richard Dacre, an interview with BFI Curator Mark Duguid, a restoration comparison and an archival slideshow.
Both films will be released as physical-only editions, while on February 18, 2020, look out for The Alastair Sim Blu-ray Collector’s Set. On March 10, 2020, further releases from Film Movement include Went the Day Well? (1942), The Colditz Story (1955), The Dam Busters (1955, physical only), Dunkirk (1958) and Ice Cold in Alex (1958).