John Schlesinger’s Terminus (1961)

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Adlington

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This year marks the 60th anniversary of the release of a film which deserves to be better known. 1961 was of course the year of Westside Story, but there was another 1961 film which is pure gold when it comes to heritage cinema.

The film director John Schlesinger was largely unknown when in 1960 he was persuaded by Edgar Anstey to make a documentary for British Transport Films (BTF).

Schlesinger suggested “something on Sussex, Brighton perhaps.” Anstey countered with a proposal that a documentary on a large railway station might be good. Still clinging to the idea of Sussex, Schlesinger suggested the busy terminus at Brighton as a strong candidate. But in the end Anstey pressed the case for Waterloo station in London. I

With the BTF contract agreed in early summer 1960, Schlesinger spent many long days (and nights) roaming the concourse and platforms at Waterloo.

Sixty years ago, filming was not as lightweight and agile as it is today, and there were particular challenges in recording live sounds in busy settings such as at a London railway station. So some of the scenes were staged, although Schlesinger insisted that these recalled incidents he had seen during his August 1960 research at Waterloo. “It was scripted to a point,” recalled Schlesinger later in life.
The film may be watched on YouTube (33 minutes). A short (4 minutes) extract is also available.
 
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Ashley Hill

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Its an excellent film even though most of it was planned and choreographed. The crying boy is a relative of Johns and he himself appears in it as a suited businessman.
 

LWB

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Its an excellent film even though most of it was planned and choreographed. The crying boy is a relative of Johns and he himself appears in it as a suited businessman.
Ow! That little boy’s trauma always breaks my heart. Always assumed it was genuine distress from losing his mum. What on Earth did they do to him to bring that on for the cameras!
 

Adlington

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"Terminus" debated in the House of Commons:

Sir J. Pitman

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it was with his approval that the film, "Terminus", now being shown in London, included moving pictures of individual prisoners in handcuffs and close-ups of them in a railway carriage reserve for a Home Office party.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Permission was given to take long shots of an actual prison party, in which no individuals would be recognisable. But I am informed that no such shots were taken and that the whole scene was staged with professional actors.
 

Taunton

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Ow! That little boy’s trauma always breaks my heart. Always assumed it was genuine distress from losing his mum. What on Earth did they do to him to bring that on for the cameras!
Son of a director, quite likely went to stage school. Probably enjoyed every minute of it and was the envy of his classmates when they showed a copy of the film at the school.
 

Railcar

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Waterloo in 1962 is the location for the final scenes of The Party's Over, starring Oliver Reed. The scenes include a coffin being loaded on to a train (presumably to Southampton, for shipment to the USA). Shot in the autumn of 1962, it was not shown in cinemas until 1965, following extensive cuts made by the UK Film Censor. To see the full version, get the BFI Blu-ray+DVD package
 

Merthyr Imp

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Son of a director, quite likely went to stage school. Probably enjoyed every minute of it and was the envy of his classmates when they showed a copy of the film at the school.


The child was five years old.

According to Wikipedia, the child: "Matthew Perry, was temporarily abandoned deliberately by his mother Margaret, an actress relative of Schlesinger."
 

AngelRoad

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Absolutely wonderful film though Im definitely not a fan of the crying child. Another great film at a London terminus is the one about a litter bin at Broad St, I kid you not
 
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