Adwatch: Virgin Trains - 'The return of the train'

I love old movies. Remember that great one with Steve Martin, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid? To be honest, I don't either. Nor can I remember any of the old films GGT used for the 80s Holsten Pils ads starring Griff Rhys Jones, which is just as well - it might have coloured my opinion of this very slick ad for Virgin Trains.

The idea is extremely simple. Take scenes from classic movies in which the characters are seen travelling on trains and put them on a modern train. Like I said, the idea is simple enough to write down - but I bet it wasn't nearly so easy to put together.

For those of you who haven't yet seen it, it begins with the young Jenny Agutter and her on-screen siblings from 70s film The Railway Children looking on in awe as a Virgin train thunders past. (Whether they are amazed by the shiny new rolling stock or the fact that it's running on time is anyone's guess.)

We are then treated to Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot in the dining car, while sitting nearby a black-and-white Dame May Whitty is ordering tea from a full-colour Virgin waiter. 'Make sure the water's absolutely boiling,' she insists in a plummy voice that I'm certain would, in real life, result in some very colourful language from said colourful waiter.

All this made me start to wonder when the cast of Some Like it Hot would jump aboard. I needn't have worried because we soon arrive at a station to see Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis struggling in high heels as they rush along the platform in drag, which is always funny. And the bit near the end where Lemmon and Curtis and Whitty brush past Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint from North by Northwest in the corridor is a nice touch.

The fact that the makers have managed to combine the various elements so seamlessly is what makes this ad so watchable. I'm pretty sure it will be very popular with the punters, but do I like it? Yes and no. Yes, it is lovingly put together, with a lot of wit and an eye for detail. But I can't help thinking that I've seen old movies cut together with new footage somewhere before.

So I am left sitting on the fence. A bit like the Railway Children at the beginning of this ad.

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