The Last Journey (1936)    1 Stars


The Last Journey (1936)
The Last Journey (1936)

Director: Bernard Vorhaus

Cast: Godfrey Tearle, Hugh Williams, Judy Gunn

Synopsis: A train driver on his final journey before retirement suspects his wife of having an affair with his engineer.






The Last Journey, the title of this 1936 British quota-quickie, takes place on a passenger train to the fictional town of Mulchester. It’s the final trip of train driver Bob Holt (Julien Mitchell), whose severe depression at having to retire is compounded by the unfounded suspicion that his wife (Olga Lindo) is carrying on with his fireman, Charlie (Michael Hogan – whose last movie this would be before embarking on a successful screenwriting career). Bob’s suicidal state of mind forms only one aspect of a multi-stranded storyline which follows the exploits of the train’s diverse cast of passengers.

The 1930s are seen by many as something of a barren time for the British film industry, largely because of the 1927 Cinematograph Film Act, which decreed that a certain percentage of films screened in the UK had to be domestically produced. The Act prompted American studios to finance what were known as Quota Quickies – ultra-low budgets films of equally ultra-low quality – in order to comply with the Act while being able to continue flooding the UK market with their product. At least, that’s the traditionally accepted version of events, but a film like The Last Journey provides compelling evidence that not all films considered to be quota quickies were terrible movies.

To be fair, The Last Journey isn’t a great movie – but it is a perfectly acceptable low-budget programmer with a varied and interesting cast and the kind of multi-stranded storyline that pre-figures those big-budget 1970s disaster movies by some thirty-five years. There are perhaps a few too many characters for a film which lasts little more than an hour, but The Last Journey has both charm and personality, and even had the potential to be a great film had it been in the hands of an Asquith or Hitchcock. It will also prove of interest to fans of vintage steam trains.

(Reviewed 28th March 2015)

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