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Night Train to Munich (The Criterion Collection)

4.2 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

British and Gestapo agents vie for a Czech inventor and his daughter. Directed by Carol Reed.


A certain breathless immediacy pulses through Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich, even if the movie conveys a puckish sense of fun. The immediacy probably stems from the topical subject matter: released in Britain in the summer of 1940, less than a year after the beginning of World War II, the film serves up still-fresh images of espionage, Hitler's SS, and concentration camps. The opening reels are packed with excitement: plucky Czech Margaret Lockwood hustles her scientist father (James Harcourt) out from under the Nazi thumb, only to fall to more skullduggery after emigrating to England. Rex Harrison plays her breezy British contact, first seen singing a jaunty tune as a song plugger (for anyone familiar with Harrison's later My Fair Lady vocalizing, his career here is highly amusing). The second half of the picture concentrates on a journey across Europe as the war is breaking out, and clearly aspires to (and frequently matches) the comic-suspenseful mode perfected in Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, which also starred Lockwood. Both films were written by the crack team of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, who bring in that glorious cricket-loving combo from The Lady Vanishes, Charters and Caldicott. They are played again by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, who are just as funny here as they were in the earlier picture. Years before The Third Man and The Fallen Idol, Reed's direction navigates the tricky shifts between comedy, high adventure, and can-do wartime patriotism: see the splendid silent beat that follows the moment Charters and Caldicott hear that war has begun, broken by Charters's serious reflection that it will now be dashed difficult to get his golf clubs out of Europe. Superb. The Criterion release of Night Train to Munich includes a half-hour conversation between experts on the filmmakers--staged, fittingly, aboard an old train car. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New video conversation between film scholars Peter Evans and Bruce Babington
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Philip Kemp

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison, Paul Henreid
    • Directors: Carol Reed
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Criterion
    • DVD Release Date: June 29, 2010
    • Run Time: 90 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B003D3Y65G
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,869 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Night Train to Munich (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 26, 2010
    Format: DVD
    While this is one of Carol Reed's first-class movies, it also owes a lot to Alfred Hitchcock and The Lady Vanishes. It was written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, who also wrote Lady, and the co-star is Margaret Lockwood, who also starred in The Lady Vanishes. The movie is a wonderful WWII chase film, with excellent performances by Lockwood, Paul Henreid and, especially, Rex Harrison. The Criterion release is not due until mid-June, but I will assume Criterion's usual meticulous care. I've watched Night Train to Munich several times on an execrable VHS transfer and plan to purchase Criterion's treatment sight unseen. The movie is a delight of style, charm and adventure. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed.

    Professor Bomasch, a Czech scientist who has discovered a new kind of armor, and his daughter, Anna (Lockwood), flee their country for Britain one step ahead of Nazi agents. The professor makes it but his daughter is captured and sent to a concentration camp. A fellow inmate, Karl Marsen (Henreid), befriends her and they manage to escape and make their way across the channel. Anna searches for her father and is directed to a seedy boardwalk song man, Gus Bennett (Harrison), who is in fact a British agent charged with protecting her father. A Nazi agent finds and kidnaps the professor and returns him to Berlin. He takes the daughter, too, and Gus goes after them. After many adventures, including Gus bluffing his way into Gestapo headquarters as a German officer, a danger-filled journey on the night train to Munich and a rousing escape on a tram line high in the Alps between Germany and Switzerland, Gus succeeds in rescuing Professor Bomasch and Anna and winning Anna's love.
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    9 Comments 66 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    First, the bad news. I have seen two VHS versions of this superb film circulating, but both are of exceedingly low quality. I could be wrong, but I believe that at the moment there is not a first rate version of this film available in any format. We stand in great need of a fully restored DVD version of this film. The available VHS version looks scratched and poorly focused. It is still enjoyable, but one has the illusion of watching a bad print in the wee hours of the morning.
    On one level, this film is a sort of remake of Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES. The parallels to the latter are especially strong, and not at all accidental. The screenplays for both THE LADY VANISHES and NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH were written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder. Furthermore, Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford recreated their delightful characters Charters and Caldicott, two British twits who nearly stole the show in THE LADY VANISHES. Although they don't make quite the impact in this film that they did in THE LADY VANISHES, their presence nonetheless adds considerably to the film. The female protagonist is portrayed by Margaret Lockwood, who was also in the Hitchcock film. New to the Carol Reed film are an utterly delightful (as usual) Rex Harrison and Paul Henreid. Like THE LADY VANISHES, much of the film takes place on the European continent on a train, and the male hero in each film has a career that involves to some degree music.
    NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH is not, however, as good as THE LADY VANISHES. The difference isn't in the cast and the script but in the directors. In a suspense film of this kind, Hitchcock would shame any competitor, and both his touch with suspense and with comedy (elements dominant in both films) exceeds that of the otherwise quite gifted Carol Reed.
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    Comment 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    I was looking forward to this new Criterion edition of Carol Reed's "remake" of Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES with enormous anticipation. I had long loved the film from having seen it in student film clubs while in grad school in New Haven and Chicago, but had been repulsed by the public domain editions that were the only way to acquire the film on either VHS or DVD. But with Criterion you always look forward not merely to a sterling restoration, but the bundle of wonderful special features that come with the film. A superb recent example is the recent Criterion edition of John Ford's STAGECOACH, which was filled to overflowing with commentaries and special features. But when I opened this, I was severely disappointed to see only a single special feature, two writers who discuss various aspects of the film. No commentary however, and no other additional features. The Criterion edition of THE LADY VANISHES, on the other hand, not only has a commentary and special video features, it also contains an entire film featuring Caldecott and Charters, the characters invented by writers Sidney Gilliatt and Frank Launder in THE LADY VANISHES. Needless to say, this edition of NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH, with its lack of features, was quite a disappointment.

    Still, as I pointed out above, there were no good versions of this available on tape or disc, and this does feature a beautifully restored print. In truth, if it weren't for the fact that Criterion had set such ridiculously high standards with previous releases, there would be no complaints with this one.

    The film is such an explicit imitation of THE LADY VANISHES that charges of plagiarism might be leveled, if it wasn't that it was so clearly respectful of what Hitchcock had achieved in that masterpiece.
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