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Elephant Will Never Forget, The (1953)

Courtesy of London Transport Museum

Main image of Elephant Will Never Forget, The (1953)
Cine Gazette No. 12
35mm, black and white, 11 mins
DirectorJohn Krish
Production CompanyBritish Transport Films
ProducerEdgar Anstey
ScriptJohn Krish
PhotographyBob Paynter
MusicEdward Williams

A fond farewell to London's trams - whose peculiarly endearing qualities were discovered only at the threat of their disappearance.

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John Krish, when asked to record London's Last Tram, argued intently with British Transport Films' head Edgar Anstey that a proper film could be made out of this record shooting. Anstey refused, claiming it was not in the remit of the unit to reflect on the passing of old transport. Krish was told BTF's remit was to look to the future and celebrate new technology, not to make sentimental films about the past. Krish, bemused and annoyed, grouped together a small band of men keen to go ahead irrespective of the consequences, shot it, edited it and arranged for Edward Williams to compose music, all under the disguise of doing other work.

Impressed with the finished results, the team screened the film for Anstey, who promptly dismissed Krish, claiming he would never work for the unit again!

Yes, it is sentimental and yes, it is a great piece of filmmaking (turning out to be one of the most successful BTF films of all time), however, it is out of character with the rest of British Transport's output purely because of its reflective nature. Going against the grain cost Krish his career with BTF; he did make one more film for British Transport, The Finishing Line (1977), but only after Anstey had retired.

Steven R Foxon

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Shadows of Progress: Documentary Film in Post-War Britain 1951-1977'. Director John Krish talks about the film on the BFI's YouTube channel.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (10:42)
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Charter Year 1957 (1957)
Finishing Line, The (1977)
Nine, Dalmuir West (1962)
Krish, John (1923- )
British Transport Films
Postwar Documentary