5 May 2005 | richard-meredith27
Well crafted and a must see for genre fans.
Waterloo Road is sometimes forgotten among the hundreds of films made by the late, great Sir John Mills, but it gave him one of his best roles at a time when British Film studios were churning out a handful of films each week for to satisfy the public.
He plays Jim Colter, a former railway employee, now called up who goes AWOL to find Ted Purvis (Stewart Granger), a spiv and draft dodger who is seeing his wife (an excellent performance by Joy Shelton). The action takes place over a single day in, and around, Waterloo Station. In almost social realism style the camera follows the action through real streets, and includes an early amusement arcade (check those machines and the customers), a dance hall, tea shop and a tattoo parlour in a road called 'The Cut'. I watched this with my Mother(now 79)as its her favourite John Mills Film, and she remembers passing by this parlour and seeing the 'tattooed lady' poster when, as a 14 year old shop assistant, she worked at Waterloo Station during the blitz.
It is a well crafted film: not many scenes are wasted and the script is tight and balanced between light and serious dialogue. Another surprise is how energetic Mills is. He leaps across tables and through windows like an acrobat. The fight scene is as well filmed and choreographed as any American Film Noir of the time, and even allowing for library clips of the blitz (which can be seen in other wartime films), the bombing sequence is as close to the real thing as the studio could make it.
My favourite performance and /or character? Ben Williams playing the hapless Military Policeman Corporal Lewis forever chasing Mills around 'The Cut'. How often are films today enhanced by the Extra Players?