Buster (film)

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Buster (1988 movie poster).jpg
Directed by David Green
Produced by Norma Heyman
Written by Colin Shindler
Starring Phil Collins
Julie Walters
Music by Anne Dudley
Cinematography Tony Imi
Edited by Lesley Walker
The Movie Group
Vestron Pictures
Distributed by Hemdale Film Corporation
Release date(s)
  • 23 November 1988 (1988-11-23)
Running time 102 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $540,000 (domestic)[1]

Buster is a 1988 British romantic comedy-drama crime film based on characters and events from the Great Train Robbery (1963). It stars musician Phil Collins, Julie Walters, Larry Lamb and Sheila Hancock. The soundtrack featured two Phil Collins singles which topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.


Buster Edwards is a petty criminal from the East End of 1960s London. His long-suffering wife June thinks of him as a loveable rogue and cannot believe it when she learns of his involvement in the Great Train Robbery.

For several months after the robbery, Buster and June are in hiding with their young daughter Nicky (Ellie Beaven) until they are turned in to the police by a suspicious neighbour. Buster flees to Acapulco where he is met by fellow Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds and his girlfriend Franny Reynolds who are also on the run and living it up in the sun with the profits of their crime.

June and Nicky arrive despite the disapproval of her mother and although Nicky seems to love her new life in the sun, June is immediately not keen on their new way of life, resolving to return to England, despite knowing that if Buster is to return with them, then this will mean imprisonment for him.

Buster remains in Acapulco for some time after June leaves, until realising (while celebrating England's 1966 World Cup triumph) that despite his having money and the sun, it means nothing if he doesn't have his family, and he returns to England to accept his punishment.

The film closes, twelve years after Buster's release from jail, seemingly content and running a flower stall near Waterloo Bridge on the Thames.



Several Phil Collins singles were released from the soundtrack, including "A Groovy Kind of Love" and "Two Hearts", which reached #1 and #6 on the UK Singles Chart, respectively. Both songs were number one singles in the US.[2] Phil Collins also co-wrote "Loco in Acapulco", performed by The Four Tops for the soundtrack. "Two Hearts" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, a Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, tying with "Let the River Run" from Working Girl by Carly Simon.

Filming locations[edit]

The opening sequence was filmed in Broadway Market, Hackney. The robbery scenes were filmed on the Great Central Railway, using British Rail Class 40, D306, as a stand-in for D326 which was actually involved. Some scenes were filmed in Page Street, Westminster, London.[citation needed]

Royal controversy[edit]

Prince Charles and Princess Diana cancelled their attendance of the film's premiere on 15 September 1988, on the advice of Phil Collins, after the film was accused of glorifying crime. Collins said he wanted to avoid causing them "embarrassment".[3] One of the film's critics was Conservative MP Ivor Stanbrook, who said the royal couple should not be associated with a film that "commemorates a particularly sordid and vicious crime."[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Reviews for the film tended to be mixed, with praise for the lead performances but criticism of the film's tone. Film critic Barry Norman, host of BBC Television's Film 88, praised the performances of Collins and Walters, but criticised the film's script for its tone of romanticizing criminality, as well as the failure to address the brutal assault on the train driver, describing the film as "amoral and even deplorable in its neglect of the act of violence".[this quote needs a citation] Radio Times gives the film three stars out of five, stating: "Too squeaky clean to be believable, this is an entertaining but fairy-tale view of law-breaking."[5] Halliwell's Film Guide also described the film as an "uneasy combination of romantic comedy and chase thriller".[6] Leonard Maltin gave the film two-and-a-half stars, writing: "Singer Collins' starring film debut is a diverting (if forgettable) yarn, with Walters a good match as his loving, long-suffering spouse." Maltin also claimed the film had a "great soundtrack".[7]

Stage version[edit]

A stage production of Buster was produced between 2000–2004 at various locations across the UK starring (amongst others) Ray Quinn in the main cast. The production was an adaptation by Kieran Woodbury of the original screenplay penned by Colin Shindler.


  1. ^ "Buster". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-07-12. 
  2. ^ Dean, Maury (2003). Rock N' Roll Gold Rush. Algora. p. 160. ISBN 0-87586-207-1. 
  3. ^ (9 September 1988). "Prince Charles cancels royal film date". Manila Standard (Manila).
  4. ^ Dobbin, Ben (28 August 1988). "25 Years Later : Great Train Robbery: Lives Differ". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Buster". Radio Times. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Halliwell, Leslie (1997). Halliwell's Film and Video Guide. ISBN 9780006388685. 
  7. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2014). Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. ISBN 9780451418104. 

External links[edit]