Railway stations provide the setting for meetings and departures. Trains
roaring through contrast with the bleakness of an empty platform after
farewells have been made. Several UK stations have drawn on Brief Encounter
as a name for refreshment rooms. Carnforth Station, now described as ‘The
Home of Brief Encounter’, has made a major tourist attraction out of its
contact with the actual filming of the night scenes there. It replicates the
film’s tea room, screens the film daily, and has a shop full of souvenir
artefacts of the film.
Far from being cinematically backward, 1950s British film had dashes of imagination that outdid more famous or prestigious examples from the cinematic canon. In his contribution to this book, Dave Rolinson, particularly in his recovery of the neglected The Horse's Mouth, aptly draws attention to a sharper edge to 1950s British film comedy than is always acknowledged. British film of this period is not often credited with that kind of audacity or comic cheek. The comedy is often characterised as postcard or parochial, with the likeable but limited registers of, say, Henry Cornelius's Genevieve or Basil Dearden's The Smallest Show on Earth being typical of the range. Again a classic image from 1950s British cinema would be Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea, the epitome of quiet English integrity.