Taglines: Charming, lovable… and wanted for the crime of the century!
Buster Edwards is a petty criminal from the East End of 1960s London. His long-suffering wife June (Julie Walters) thinks of him as a lovable rogue. The film opens with Buster (Phil Collins) walking along his local high street. He breaks into a shop to steal a suit, into which he then change to attend a funeral.
Buster brings Harry (Michael Attwell), who has been used on other ‘jobs’ and has recently served 18 months in prison for his part in previous robberies, to discuss the next ‘job’ with the ring-leader Bruce Reynolds (Larry Lamb). Harry wants ‘in’ and becomes part of the firm who are planning to rob a Royal Mail train allegedly carrying up to £1000,000 in cash.
After a complex and successful heist, the gang return to their farmhouse hideout to stay out of sight and split the spoils. They find they have stolen over £3,000,000 − much more than they have anticipated, or is reported by the media. Members of the gang are shown drinking from beer bottles and glasses without wearing gloves, leaving fingerprints which would be evidence of their involvement in the robbery.
While lying-low at the farmhouse they hear on the radio that the police are searching farmhouses and outhouses within a 30-mile (48 km) radius of the robbery site. The gang become nervous and some members want to immediately return to London for fear of discovery; others think they should keep to the original plan and stay put.
The gang decide to return to London, where they meet their ‘contact’, a solicitor’s clerk who (as in the original plan) arranges for the farmhouse to be ‘cleared and cleaned’, thereby destroying any physical evidence linking the gang to the robbery. The contact states he will bring the plans forward from a few weeks to the next 2 to 3 days.
Bruce, Buster and Harry are not happy with any delay at all because they fear imminent discovery, so they set off back to the farmhouse in their own car, to do the job themselves. During the journey they hear on the car radio that the farmhouse hideout has been discovered, so they abandon their plans and return to London, hoping they will have time to escape with their families.
Buster returns home. He is devastated to find that June has had a miscarriage while he was committing the robbery. She cannot believe it when she learns of his involvement in what has been quickly dubbed “The Great Train Robbery”.
For several months after the robbery, Buster and June remain 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 (Stephanie Lawrence), who are also on the run and living it up in the sun with the profits of the crime.
June and Nicky arrive, despite the disapproval of her mother (Sheila Hancock), and although Nicky seems to love her new life in the sun, June is immediately unimpressed with their new way of life and resolves to return to England, despite knowing that if Buster is to return with them, it will mean imprisonment for him.
Buster is a 1988 British romantic comedy-drama crime film based on characters and events from the Great Train Robbery. 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.
Directed by: David Green
Starring: Phil Collins, Julie Walters, Larry Lamb, Stephanie Lawrence, Ellie Beaven, Michael Attwell, Ralph Brown, Sheila Hancock, Anthony Quayle
Screenplay by: Colin Shindler
Production Design by: Simon Holland
Cinematography by: Tony Imi
Film Editing by: Lesley Walker
Costume Design by: Evangeline Harrison
Art Direction by: Clinton Cavers
Music by: Anne Dudley
Distributed by: Hemdale Film Corporation
Release Date: November 23, 1988