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  The Runaway Bus
Year: 1954
Director: Val Guest
Stars: Frankie Howerd, Margaret Rutherford, Petula Clark, Belinda Lee, Terence Alexander, George Colouris, John Horsley, Lionel Murton, Toke Townley, Michael Gwynne, Stringer Davis, Richard Beynon, Sam Kydd, Marianne Stone, Reginal Beckwith, Lisa Gastoni
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: As southern England lies fog-bound and all flights from Heathrow are grounded, a handful of passengers manage to leave the airport by coach bound for Blackbushe Airport and a chance of getting a flight to Dublin. All is not what it seems with them, however, as the bus holds £200,000 in stolen bullion, and someone on board is the villain!

Frankie Howerd, in his first big-screen role, plays Percy, the unwitting, unassuming driver, and as such provides most of the comedy moments as he tries to unpick the plot. Apparently cautious about breaking into film, he only agreed to do it so he could work with Margaret Rutherford, whom he had long admired.

Rutherford plays a bossy academic and 'positive thinker' with her usual aplomb - a role that ironically mirrors the role Howerd was to take on fourteen years later in Carry On Doctor. A very young Petula Clark also shines as the stewardess assigned to look after the passengers. Also aboard are businessman Ernest Schroeder, whom Percy suspects is the villain, mild-mannered Henry Waterman, pulp-fiction addict Janie Grey (Belinda Lee) and airline pilot Peter Jones (Terence Alexander).

There’s a lovely quaintness about this movie, right from its early views of a very pre-commercialised Heathrow Airport, to the mixture of passengers and their quirks and foibles, such as Janie's inability to see the tense plot unwrapping before her very eyes, because she's still wrapped in a paperback thriller.

But who is the villain? And what - if anything - can be done about it?
Reviewer: Paul Shrimpton

 

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Val Guest  (1912 - 2006)

British writer, director and producer, best known for his science fiction films, who started on the stage, graduated to film scriptwriting (Will Hay comedies such as Oh! Mr Porter are among his credits) in the 1930s, and before long was directing in the 1940s. He will be best remembered for a string of innovative, intelligent science fiction movies starting with The Quatermass Xperiment, then sequel Quatermass II, The Abominable Snowman and minor classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire.

He also made Frankie Howerd comedy The Runaway Bus, Cliff Richard musical Expresso Bongo, some of Casino Royale, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, 1970s sex comedies Au Pair Girls and Confessions of a Window Cleaner, and his last film, the Cannon and Ball-starring The Boys in Blue.

 
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