The Law of Contact

The Ghost Train (May 31, 1941)

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Arthur Askey in The Ghost Train
 

Released May 31, 1941: (running time 1 hour and 21 minutes) Arthur Askey provides the laughs with his Vaudville routines as a group of eccentric train passengers stranded in an empty train station deal with the arrival of a train full of ghosts.

Directed by Walter Forde

The Actors: Arthur Askey (Tommy Gander), Richard Murdoch (Teddy Deakin), Kathleen Harrison (Miss Bourne), Peter Murray Hill (Richard G. Winthrop), Carole Lynn (Jackie Winthrop), Morland Graham (Dr. Sterling), Betty Jardine (Edna Hopking), Stuart Latham (Herbert Perkins), Herbert Lomas (Saul Hodgkin, station master), Raymond Huntley (John Price), Linden Travers (Julia Price), D.J. Williams (Ben Isaacs, ghost train conductor), Wallace Bosco (Ted Holmes, ghost train station master), Wilfrid Lawson (unknown), George Merritt (Train Inspector), Sydney Moncton (train guard)

 

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Guest Review by Peter Kelbrick

Hallowe'en is the time of year when, in traditions dating back to Celtic ceremonies and the Gaelic Samhain, evil spirits were thought to be abroad and at their most powerful. Once darkness had fallen, masks were donned and flaming torches and bonfires lit up the sky to keep the troublesome spirits at bay until the sunrise on All Hallows' Day (as it became known once the tradition had been Christianized) drove away the evil, ensuring a winter free from the powers of darkness.

As a child in England, my contribution to this ceremony was a shortened, guttering candle inside a hollowed out swede (that's rutabaga to you Americans) lantern, into which my dad would cut a monstrous face through which the light would shine. We kids would meet up on the street and simply walk around until our candles had burnt away: no pumpkins, no trick or treat, no costumes, no parties, no products on sale in the shop's, just a line of kids walking around in the gloomy, fading light of the evening of the 31st of October. Pretty tame when compared with the way Halloween was, and is still celebrated in the USA, but then we Brits always were a little slow to catch up with your more extravagant customs!

I have chosen for this evening, a British film which has become something of a cult classic because of its humour, thanks largely to the great Liverpool-born Arthur Askey, born six miles, as the crow flies, from where I now sit. He was a diminutive comedian whose career began in the music halls of Northern England after WWI and which kept him at the top of his profession right up to his death in 1982.

The Ghost Train was made, or rather re-made in 1941, a full ten years after the original 1923 play, written by Arnold Ridley (later to gain fame as Private Godfrey in the classic BBC comedy series, Dad's Army) was made into a film. The re-make is, in my opinion, a better picture because of its cast, which contained Arthur Askey's writing partner and fellow comedian, Richard 'Stinker' Murdoch and a plethora of excellent, stalwart character actors whose talent lifted this version above its predecessor.

The film revolves around a group of passengers who, having left one train on a dark, rainy evening, become stranded at a small Cornish railway station. Their wait for the next train to Truro becomes a nervous one after they are warned of the 'ghost train' and of the deadly fate that will befall any mortal who dares to look at it as it hurtles through the sleepy station. You really don't need to know any more because the sub-plot will reveal itself, so just sit back, watch and enjoy a real gem of a movie, without having to close your eyes to escape from the graphic violence and gore which we have grown to expect from more modern 'scary movies'.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Ghost Train!

Arthur Askey
Arthur Askey
Arthur Askey and Kathleen Harrison
Arthur Askey and Kathleen Harrison
Arthur Askey
Arthur Askey
Betty Jardine and Stuart Latham
Betty Jardine and Stuart Latham
Betty Jardine and Stuart Latham
Betty Jardine and Stuart Latham
Carole Lynne
Carole Lynne
Carole Lynne and Betty Jardine
Carole Lynne and Betty Jardine
Carole Lynne and Linden Travers
Carole Lynne and Linden Travers
Carole Lynne and Richard Murdoch
Carole Lynne and Richard Murdoch
Carole Lynne
Carole Lynne
George Merritt
George Merritt
George Merritt and Sidney Monckton
George Merritt and Sidney Monckton
Herbert Lomas
Herbert Lomas
Herbert Lomas and Peter Murray-Hill
Herbert Lomas and Peter Murray-Hill
Herbert Lomas
Herbert Lomas
Herbert Lomas
Herbert Lomas
Kathleen Harrison
Kathleen Harrison
Kathleen Harrison
Kathleen Harrison
Linden Travers
Linden Travers
Linden Travers and Raymond Hatton
Linden Travers and Raymond Hatton
Linden Travers
Linden Travers
Linden Travers
Linden Travers
Morland Graham
Morland Graham
Morland Graham and Carole Lynn
Morland Graham and Carole Lynn
Morland Graham and Richard Murdoch
Morland Graham and Richard Murdoch
Morland Graham
Morland Graham
Peter Murray-Hill
Peter Murray-Hill
Peter Murray-Hill, Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch
Peter Murray-Hill, Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch
Peter Murray-Hill and Arthur Askey
Peter Murray-Hill and Arthur Askey
Peter Murray-Hill and Richard Murdoch
Peter Murray-Hill and Richard Murdoch
Raymond Huntley
Raymond Huntley
Raymond Huntley and Richard Murdoch
Raymond Huntley and Richard Murdoch
Raymond Huntley
Raymond Huntley
Richard Murdoch
Richard Murdoch
Richard Murdoch, Betty Jardine, Stuart Latham
Richard Murdoch, Betty Jardine, Stuart Latham
Richard Murdoch and Linden Travers
Richard Murdoch and Linden Travers
Sidney Monckton
Sidney Monckton
Sidney Monckton
Sidney Monckton
Stuart Latham and Betty Jardine
Stuart Latham and Betty Jardine
Stuart Latham and Betty Jardine
Stuart Latham and Betty Jardine