Sunday 28 December 2014

Ladykillers Redux [1]

fbb recommnded this "Ealing Comedy" for viewing on Boxing Day. The plot concerns a group of ham-fisted criminals who steal £60,000 from a not-very-secure security van in the Kings Cross area. To facilitate this plan, the gang pose as musicians and rent rooms from the archetypical dotty old lady, Mrs Wilberforce. Unwittingly she is deputed to be the one to collect the haul from the parcels office at St Pancras station. Equally unwittingly, Mrs Wilberforce thwarts the gang at every turn. She must be killed! (Hence the film's title!).

The gang fails in this task and four die at the hands of their erstwhile fellow criminals. The gang leader dies when a home signal is returned to danger and hits his head, propelling him to death on the tracks.

The stars were:-
Top row: Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers and Cecil Parker (corrected : see comment). Bottom row: a wonderfully sinister Alec Guiness ...
... the unmissable Katie Johnson (as Mrs Wilberforce) and Danny Green. The film was made in 1955.

Mrs Wilberforce lives here ...
... in a ramshackle house built specially for the film at the end of a street above the southern portal of Copenhagen Tunnel, the second tunnel north of London's Kings Cross station. This is the view from the gang's rehearsal room at the back of the fake house.
Note the five sided decorative feature at the bottom of the picture and the North London Line [NLL] crossing on viaduct. It looks like this nowadays; much changed from 1955.
The tubular bit glimpsed through the NLL is the Eurostar link into St Pancras. So where IS the site of Mrs Wilberforce's tatty mansion? The "film locations" web sites all tell you that it was on Frederica Street.
There it is top right, and nowhere near the tunnel mouth (centre left).

A bit more work needed, eh?
A 1937 street map shows Frederick Street (not Frederica) coming to a shuddering halt at a railway siding, itself on top of Copenhagen tunnel. This earlier map makes it a bit clearer.
Crossing from left to right is the North London Line with the main tracks from Kings Cross running north-south. 

So, tomorrow, we can put the jigsaw together.
Thanks ...
... to a correspondent who sent fbb the "Southern" railway Christmas leaflet referred to on 26th. Helpfully (?) this was orgainsed by "lines" (e.g. "Metro" for the inner suburban services) and then by date. Boxing Day routes were all "Metro" which, confusingly, included a service TO Brighton.
Hourly trains FROM Brighton appear in the Brighton Main Line (Green Section) together with extra "Football" trains between Brighton and Falmer.
fbb's Festive Foray
With the usual security arrangements ...
... in place to protect the stock of family silver etc ...
... the old crusties are spending a few days with No. 1 son and family. Apologes for any instability in blog posting! 
 their study 
Each year, Christians flock from all over the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, but archaeologists believe they are in the wrong place. Instead, Jesus was more likely to have been born in Bethlehem of the Galilee, a hillside village in northern Israel, The Times reports.

Aviram Oshri, an Israeli archaeologist, told the paper that the genuine site of the Nativity had been mistaken by thousands.However, any archaeological proof that Jesus was born in the town has probably been destroyed by modern building work, he said.

Every year the media comes up with a "Bible is wrong" scenario. A gang of astrologers from Iraq were studying ancient texts which may well included suggestions that a Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephratha, specifically thee on near Jerusalem, that he would be born of a virgin and that he would be called Emmanuel, i.e. God with Us.

We can only recognise one of these prophetic predications from Matthew's account. He quotes Micah, a prophet from about 700BC.

But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, (NOT Bethlehem in Galilee) though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

But the astrologers will have studied other old testament documents and sought guidance from the stars.

By the way, they weren't kings; there is not the slightest evidence that they rode on camels, horses are far more likely; and they did not go to the stable and thus never met the shepherds or gazed wistfully at the manger. Nor do we know their names, Gaspar, Balthazzar and Melchior are pure invention; ven more of an invention as the Bible never mentions how many there were,
And they probably didn't wear silly hats either. But there is no good reason to doubt their coming, whoever they were!
 Next filmic rail blog : Monday 29th December 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent film, The Ladykillers. In the cast photograph, the actor to the right in the back row is Cecil Parker, not Denis Price. Keep up the good work. (The Clouded Yellow, 1950 features some interesting transport from a Newcastle trolleybus to the Liverpool Overhead Railway.)