WHEN pundits refer to the definitive speedway film, they most commonly mean the Dirk Bogarde epic, Once a Jolly Swagman, released in 1948. Perhaps the acting was better than it is in There Is Another Sun but this British movie, produced three years later, certainly boasts more speedway content. Both films are based on contemporary novels, of course, and both feature a speedway rider as their central character.
With its racing scenes shot at Walthamstow Stadium, There Is Another Sun tells the story of Eddie Peskett (Maxwell Reed) who goes by the name of ‘Racer’,a former speedway rider whose career had come to an end two years previously in a track crash which had broken both his legs and left his opponent dead.
Eddie now earns a living riding the Wall of Death at a local fairground but is driven by the need to get back into the sport he loves and in which he had formerly been a crowd pleaser and a record breaker. He approaches the promoter at the nearby Midborough Speedway but he needs the track to lend him a bike and, because he is an insurance risk, they demand a deposit of £50 before they will let him ride. How will Racer get that sort of money together, (given that in 1951, a loaf of bread cost only 6d, a cinema ticket, 2d, a car £520 and a house, £2,100?
There is Another Sun
was based on the book of the same name by James Raisin
Maxwell Reed stars as Eddie Peskett, former speedway star desperate to get back into the sport
as young boxer Mag Maguire gives perhaps the most convincing acting performance
Susan Shaw plays Lillian, for whose affections Mag and Racer compete
Harry Fowler plays the young rider with whom Eddie Peskett tangles in his final race
Maxwell ReedEddie 'Racer' Peskett
Laurence HarveyMag Maguire
Leslie DwyerMick Foley
Meredith EdwardsDetective Sergeant Bratcher
Hermione BaddeleyGypsy Sarah
Leslie BradleyRacetrack Manager
Nosher PowellTeddy Green
Earl CameronGinger Jones
Dennis VanceLen Tyldesley
Charles FarrellMr. Simmons
Harry FowlerFirst Novice Biker
J.H. Messham1st Wall of Death Rider
Jim Kynaston2nd Wall of Death Rider
Tom Messham3rd Wall of Death Rider
In the United States, the film was released in 1953 under the title Wall of Death. The book, too, was retitled for the American market as Backlash.
Director Lewis Gilbert was also a prolific screenwriter and producer. His films included such notable successes as Alfie, Shirley Valentine, Educating Rita and Reach For the Sky as well as three James Bond films, including You Only Live Twice.
Mag Maguire (Laurence Harvey) is a young boxer who plies his trade in the fairground booth but who has hopes -
While Mag and Racer vie for Lily’s affections, Peskett turns out to be a ruthless man who will use friends and enemies alike to get back into speedway, so strong is his desire.
Before long, he is wanted by the police for theft and a serious assault on the owner of the Wall of Death, who lies critically injured in hospital.
The story climaxes back on the track at Midborough where Racer wins through to the final of the £100 trophy. This time, however, it is his own career which ends when he tangles with another rider, (played by a youthful Harry Fowler) and is struck by a following rider.
A selection of the U.S. posters for the film under its American title, Wall of Death.
Click the larger poster for an even bigger view
Part of the huge Walthamstow crowd on the evening some of the racing scenes were shot