Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Ghost Train

1941: Dir.: Walter Forde
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 27th December, 2007
There was a time when Arthur Askey and Richard “Stinker” Murdoch were the most famous and well loved comedy duo in Britain. In the worrying few years before war broke out their vividly realised fantasy world reassured people that things weren’t all black if it was still possible for programmes as daft as this to be made. In “Bandwagon” (broadcast on the BBC Light Programme) they inhabited a rooftop flat at Broadcasting House along with Lewis the goat, and pigeons named Basil, Lucy, Ronald and Sarah. Other regular characters included Mrs Bagwash the char and her daughter Nausea, both of whom were often referred to but never heard. Arthur was courting Nausea but he never seemed to be getting anywhere - In 1938 the BBC had a strict code of conduct about such things.
“The Ghost Train” was a stage play written by Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey in “Dad’s Army”). It was first performed in 1923 and never a year has gone by since without a revival. There have been two film versions - the first, made in 1931, starred Jack Hulbert - sadly only fragments have survived. This version was made 11 years later as a vehicle for its two stars - despite this much of the original dialogue survives and Mr Ridley was reported to have enjoyed the adaptation. This is the only surviving theatrical copy of the film - our projectionist will be working very carefully!
The plot bears an uncanny resemblance to the 1937 Will Hay picture “Oh Mr Porter” - it’s impossible to not surmise that the producers must have at least seen the stage play

No comments:

Post a Comment