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The Great Train Robbery

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley-Anne Down, Alan Webb, Malcolm Terris
  • Directors: Michael Crichton
  • Writers: Michael Crichton
  • Producers: John Foreman
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 29, 1998
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792839064
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,580 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Great Train Robbery" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1
  • 8-page booklet with trivia, production notes and a revealing look at the making of the movie

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

All aboard for runaway action and suspense in this riveting masterpiece from writer/director Michael Crichton! Starring Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Lesley Anne-Down, it's a "spine-tingling and suavely performed" adventure (The Hollywood Reporter) based on history's first train robbery. Filmed by Academy AwardÂ(r)-winning* cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, this "ingenious" (Variety) and "wonderful" (Gene Shalit) crime caper delivers mile-a-minute thrills and breathtaking excitement. Connery is Edward Pierce, a master thief who conceives a brilliant plan to steal a fortune in gold bars from a railroad payroll car. But to pull off the most daring heist in history, Pierce must join forces with a safecracker (Sutherland) and his own beautiful girlfriend (Down) in a series of intricately plotted thefts that will test all of their nerve, camaraderie and larcenous skill. *1972: Cabaret; 1980: Tess


Best-selling novelist Michael Crichton had already directed Westworld and Coma when he tackled the ambitious production of The Great Train Robbery in 1978. Adapting his own novel (which was inspired by the facts of the first known train robbery), Crichton sets this attractive, highly enjoyable film in London in 1855, where Edward Pierce (Sean Connery) and Agar (Donald Sutherland) plot to steal £25,000 in gold that is being transported by train to pay British troops in the Crimean War. Lesley-Anne Down plays Miriam, Pierce's sophisticated paramour and the third partner in the scheme; while Pierce and Agar make copies of four keys for the train's closely guarded safes, she uses her feminine wiles to distract a variety of officials and businessmen with connections to the gold.

A lively, humorous caper film of the first order, The Great Train Robbery also boasts a vividly authentic recreation of mid-Victorian England, all the more remarkable since the production was filmed primarily in Ireland on a budget of $6 million--a miraculously modest sum (even in 1978) for such a lavish-looking film. Although Crichton's directorial style seems somewhat detached and bloodless, he maintains a vivid respect for place and time, and his three leads are splendid in their charismatic roles. Meticulous attention to details of costuming and production design enhance the breezy fun of the heist, which climaxes with an exciting sequence on the rushing train, with Connery performing his own stunt work. While the later hit Mission: Impossible would take a similar sequence to its high-tech, high-velocity extreme, The Great Train Robbbery remains an entertaining study of crime in a less hectic age, allowing Crichton to emphasize ingenuity over special effects. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

The parts played by Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland were fun.
The movie made it more entertaining, snipping out the tedious details, and getting right to the main events.
Crichton directed the film and wrote the screenplay, which is faithful to his wonderful book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Darren Harrison VINE VOICE on January 13, 2006
Format: DVD
Based on the book and directed by Michael Crichton, this enjoyable caper movie from 1979 brings together a fantastic cast in an authentic 19th century Victorian environment to tell a story based around the true story of the first great train robbery. I saw this movie many years ago on British television and have always found it enjoyable so it was an easy buy for me.
In addition to a superb Sean Connery as the suave mastermind Edward Pierce (is Connery ever NOT suave) and the always amazing Donald Sutherland as his accomplice Agar, we also have Lesley-Anne Down as Miriam. Down was a favorite actress of mine from this era with movies like "The Pink Panther Strikes Again," "Rough Cut" and "Sphinx." Here she plays Connery's lover who is not afraid to use her quite incredible feminine charms to aid Pierce character.
Joining the three leads are such well known faces as British television celebrity Michael Elphick (as the railway guard who aids Pierce and Agar); Pamela Salem as Emily Trent (Salem would be reunited with Connery four years later in the rogue 007 film "Never Say Never Again") and Alan Webb as the bank president.
Filmed in Ireland with a modest budget of only $6 million, the script is intelligent, the action appropriate and the dialogue both witty and engaging. The showpiece stunt with Pierce on top of a moving train has since been copied many times since, including in the 1983 James Bond movie "Octopussy" with Roger Moore in the role that Sean Connery made famous). But this stunt sequence is distinctive in that Connery performed his own stunts.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By sandy807 VINE VOICE on November 28, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Before watching this movie, I listened to the recorded book version, which was a little difficult to follow at times due in part to the reader's voice and partly to the dryness of some of the narrative. The movie made it more entertaining, snipping out the tedious details, and getting right to the main events. Of course, the book is meant to be more educational, a non-fictional account of an amazingly planned and executed train robbery, and the enigmatic disappearance of the mastermind once he was caught. The movie fulfills its duty in outlining the events, but makes it fun with entertaining characters and lively scenes. The three main characters: Sean Connery, (the mastermind), Donald Sutherland, (his sidekick), and Leslie Anne Down (Connery's girlfriend and accomplice) so delightfully play their roles, that you root for their successful conniving and contriving. This is a great movie for people who love to compare movies with the books they are made from.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel on June 9, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I was very lucky to have been introduced to this film at a young age, as I have had countless hours of joy watching this masterpiece... time and time again.
The Great Train Robbery has a unique quality, that all films strive to achieve, which is the capacity to entice an audience to return! It is an intelligent, crime comedy, with so much to offer any individual.
Superb performances from the likes of the greats Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, for which I shall always remember them for, with a great supporting cast of familiar British faces.
The story tells of a handful of criminals, equipped with their own individual skills, who aspire to pull of the biggest train robbery to date. Set in a Victorian London, the film takes us through trains, stations, courts, prisons, and the streets of London... in a chase to outrun the police and each other. The crime's success depends on their charm, speed, cunning, love of cats and a change of clothes!
For me the film is complete with the final scene, which is one of the most exciting and gratifying that I have ever had the pleasure to watch. It's escapism at its best... watch, but be prepared for admiration of the two characters, of Connery and Sutherland! The film is great, in its truest sense!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By The JuRK on February 9, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I remember being completely taken with this movie when I saw it in 1979. Sean Connery was on THE TODAY SHOW when it was released and discussed doing his own stunt work during the robbery scenes. Stumbling atop the rattling train, he was certain they had to be moving much faster than 35 MPH. When he asked the engineers how they knew they were going 35, they said they calculated it by counting the telephone poles going by! The train was actually going well over 50 MPH!
Director Michael Crichton recounts the same story in his commentary. I would've given this film five stars but, after listening to him voice his disatisfaction with it, I took one star off. I should've left the commentary for another time!
Crichton does offer a lot of interesting insights into the film. The difficulties of recreating a London that doesn't exist anymore, the moral dilemma of filming a dog killing rats (the "ratting" scene is real), the filming of the train scenes.
Connery brings his cool authority to the proceedings and Donald Sutherland is always interesting. Lesley Anne Down is gorgeous.
I really loved Jerry Goldsmith's elegant score. It really pulled the film together musically and I still have the soundtrack album.
I just wish I'd been in the soundbooth with Mr. Crichton after he finished his commentary: I would've said, "Come on, give yourself a break: you made a very cool movie!"
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