Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Runaway Bus

I could swear that I've already blogged about the film The Runaway Bus, airing at 6:30 PM this evening on TCM, before. Blogspot's search function, which definitely still has problems, doesn't show any results; nor does Google (which of course owns Blogspot). But then Bing also claims I've never blogged about it, so maybe I haven't.

The Runaway Bus is one of those interesting little British movies being made in the early 1950s in that it's got a running time of only about 75 minutes, but it packs in a lot of fun. The movie starts at one of London's airports, which is currently socked in thanks to those terrible stereotypical London fogs for which the city is famous. That means nobody gets in and nobody gets out. Except, of course, that some people need to. So a bus is rounded up to take a group of passengers to another airport where there isn't any fog, and incompetent Percy (Frankie Howerd) is put in charge as the bus driver. With Percy being incompetent, it isn't too difficult to figure out that he's going to get lost. And that provides a lot of the comedy in the movie.

But The Runaway Bus isn't just a comedy; it's a comic mystery. Back at the airport, it's been determined that somebody has made off with a shipment of gold bullion, and that whoever has it is extremely dangerous. It seems sensible to conclude that whoever took it is also on the bus. But where is the bus? And which of the passengers is the robber? Well, both questions are a bit difficult to answer. The bus has ended up somewhere where there is an abandoned town, and a series of explosions going on. And the passengers are all a bit odd, notably George Coulouris and little old lady Margaret Rutherford. Petula Clark, who is probably best known in the US today for her 1960s singing career, but had been acting since the late 1940s, plays a stewardess sent along to help oversee everything.

The Runaway Bus is quite entertaining, mixing the comedy with the suspense in the right amounts. It will leave you guessing until the end as to who stole the gold; for all we know it could even be Howerd himself! The movie has been released to DVD, but it's a relatively expensive release.

No comments: