Rail, Road and Sea

Journey through the fantastic history of rail, road, and sea on British film. Racing trains, battling ships, and an absurdly punctual headmaster make for an eclectic mix of exciting action and hilarious comedy. Traverse the better known Ealing classics, or venture off the beaten path to find strange bureaucratic institutions, and even Nessie!

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  • Night Mail

    The flagship of the GPO Film Unit's output and a cornerstone of British documentary. Harry Watt and Basil Wright's study of the down postal express stands as a beacon for John Grierson's original purpose for documentary - to make the working man the hero of the screen. A truly collaborative effor...

  • Clockwise

    When he's invited to a headmasters' conference in order to make his inaugural speech as chairman, Brian Stimpson (John Cleese), a man obsessed with punctuality, sets off with time to spare. However, numerous unexpected obstacles lead him into a race against the clock to arrive on time.

  • Terminus

    In his first cinema film, made at British Transport Films, John Schlesinger presents a day in the life of Waterloo Rail Station. Now a staple television format, this observational look at the workings of one of London’s key railway hubs was considered innovative in 1961, winning it awards at Veni...

  • Boy and Bicycle

    Ridley Scott’s first film – featuring his younger brother, the late Tony Scott, as a schoolboy playing truant for the day to meander around Hartlepool on his bicycle – is a far cry from the director’s Hollywood blockbusters, a lyrical and highly personal evocation of the early sixties North East.

  • From the Sea to the Land Beyond

    This fascinating and moving film by award-winning director Penny Woolcock is a lyrical portrait of Britain's coastline, created through an exquisite combination of evocative archive footage - drawn from the BFI National Archive - and stirring music. Brighton-based band British Sea Power set the c...

  • The Cruel Sea

    Adapted from Nicholas Monsarrat's acclaimed novel, The Cruel Sea follows a Corvette, the Compass Rose, and its crew as they fight German U-Boats in an attempt to protect convoys throughout World War 2. A stark, honest, and emotionally fueled portrayal of wartime, The Cruel Sea is unusual in its f...

  • 9 Dalmuir West

    Kevin Brownlow’s portrait of the last days of Glasgow’s tram system centres on the last tram to run in 1962, accentuating the mood of the final journey by contrasting shots of the event to the funky sounds of Joe Meek and The Tornados’ Telstar, a symbol of the modern world to which the tram no lo...

  • London

    The first in Patrick Keiller’s highly imaginative trilogy of psycho-geographic journeys charts a trip through (and history of) London, as undertaken by our unseen narrator (Paul Scofield) and his companion, Robinson.

  • Robinson in Space

    Robinson in Space again finds Patrick Keller pushing the limits of British cinema to fascinating degrees with a rewarding and unparalleled pay-off. Robinson and his unseen companion, a narrator voiced by Paul Scofield, have been commissioned to investigate the 'problem' of England. The journey ta...

  • Robinson in Ruins

    Newly released from prison Robinson has been haunting the Oxfordshire countryside with a cine camera. Film cans and a notebook are later discovered. Shot during the 2008 financial crisis, this film-essay is a fictional account of a real project. Inspired by the work of Karl Polanyi, the film unse...

  • Traveller

    Musician Davy Spillane stars as a reluctantly-married young traveller in this Irish road movie written by Neil Jordan. Michael and his wife Angela are tasked with smuggling goods back over the border from Strabane, but their road trip seems doomed at every turn - weighed down by history and pover...

  • The Titfield Thunderbolt

    When a corporation threatens to take over a small railway line, a group of villagers decide to try and run it for themselves. The final collaboration between director Charles Crichton and writer T.E.B. Clarke, The Titfield Thunderbolt is a stunningly scenic gem in Ealing's repertoire. Anarchic an...

  • Mystery Junction

    Crime writer Larry Gordon’s peaceful train journey is disturbed by a piercing scream. When it’s discovered the guard has been mugged and a murder suspect is one of the passengers, Gordon finds himself experiencing a serious case of life imitating art.

  • The Sky-Bike

    All Tom Smith can think about is becoming a pilot. When he accidentally stumbles across a prototype man-powered flying machine, he convinces its eccentric inventor, Mr Lovejoy, to let him help get it off the ground. Working in secret, the two prepare their ‘sky bike’ for a high-stakes race.

  • Soapbox Derby

    A young Michael Crawford stars as the leader of the Battersea Bats, a fresh-faced gang that's determined to best deadly rivals the Victorias in the upcoming soapbox derby.

  • Night Ferry

    In this rousing kids' crime yarn, Bernard Cribbins is 'Pyramid', a dastardly master-of-disguise who plans to smuggle an ancient Egyptian mummy out of the country. When young Jeff (Graham Fletcher-Cook) discovers the plan, a dangerous chase via South London's Victoria Station and Clapham Station e...

  • The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands

    This dramatic reconstruction of two decisive naval battles from the First World War is one of the finest films of the British silent era. Walter Summers’ film was originally released on Armistice Day 1927 to act as a memorial to the thousands who died in the Battle of Coronel, triumph for German ...

  • Incident at Loch Ness

    Legendary director Werner Herzog plays up to his intrepid documentarian persona, cultivated in films like Grizzly Man, in this hilarious mockumentary about a film crew travelling to Scotland to try and find the elusive Loch Ness Monster. Pitched somewhere between Waiting for Guffman and The Blair...

  • The Maggie

    Most Ealing comedies championed consensus, but Alexander Mackendrick's revelled in conflict. The ‘Maggie’ is a decrepit Clyde 'puffer' boat, whose wily captain dupes a wealthy American businessman to ferry his possessions to his new Scottish island home - then proceeds to delay, hinder and endang...