The Films of Petula Clark
The Runaway Bus

Released February 1954
Comedy - 78 minutes

Lantern-jawed British comedian Frankie Howerd, best known to American TV fans as the star of the raucous historical satire Up Pompeii, heads the cast of The Runaway Bus. Howard plays Percy Lamb, a novice bus driver assigned to drive a coach from one London ariport to another. Alas, the city is enveloped in a thick fog, and poor Percy gets lost, along with his half-dozen passengers and a hidden cache of stolen gold. Most of the film's best moments go to Margaret Rutherford as a not-so-sweet old lady and Belinda Lee as a spy-novel addict. Petula Clark, who was already a top recording star in 1954, appears as a perky airline hostess.
Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


Percy Lamb
Miss Beeston
Lee Nichols
Henry Waterman
Peter Jones
Janie Grey

..........Frankie Howard
..........Margaret Rutherford
..........Petula Clark
..........George Coulouris
..........Toke Townley
..........Terence Alexander
..........Belinda Lee

  • Produced and directed by Val Guest
  • Screenplay by Val Guest
  • A Conquest-Guest Production
  • Filmed at Southall Studios, UK

         Now it's Frankie Howerd's turn! And though I can't imagine this happy little nonsense causing quite such a big screen splash as Norman Wisdom's "Trouble in Store," it's still proof enough that Howerd the film comic has definitely arrived. The plot is straight homespun thrills and gags. And if at times it gets as fogbound as the weather in which the story takes place. . .well, who cares? This IS a comedy. The bus, an airway terminal bus, isn't strickly speaking a runaway--just lost in the smog. On board are the driver (Frankie Howerd) and a load of odd passengers. There's a dithery woman (Margaret Rutherford) who sounds mad but obviously isn't Thre's a smooth type (George Coulouris) who looks terribly sinister but obviously isn't. There's an air hostess (Petula Clark) who is obviously just as nice and competent as she looks. Those are the main passengers. And naturally there's an unexpected bit of merchandise in the luggage boot, stowed away by international thieves who are out to rescue it. Need I say more?
         All the passengers act up to the comedy in fine style. Two surprising performances; Pet Clark's mature acting in a very routine role and Belinda Lee's ever-so-dumb dumb blond, who reads thrillers ad infinitum and is genuinely funny in the process. But, the focal point is Howerd; his screen acting is still a bit untutored. But his comic business works like a charm.
    Picturegoer - 4 February, 1954

  • All good wishes to Pictureshow Readers - Petula
    Written and directed by Val Guest and owing much to Arnold Ridley's twice-filmed play, The Ghost Train, this comedy thriller proved the ideal debut vehicle for Frankie Howerd. Never totally at home on film, he wisely follows Bob Hope's lead in combining cowardice and wisecracks as he substitutes for the driver of an airport shuttle bus, blissfully unaware that on this foggy night he has a stash of stolen gold onboard. However, he is roundly upstaged by both that expert scene-stealer Margaret Rutherford and the under-rated Belinda Lee, whose pulp-addicted blonde has a touch of Judy Holliday about her.
    DP - Radio Times Review


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