Train, The (1964)
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Top Customer Reviews
La Bisch, the unwilling resistance man late in WWII (Lancaster) is pitted despite his objections against a cultured German general who is attempting to take every painted masterpiece out of Paris that can be found.
Knowing that delays to shipment in the face of the german retreat and allied advance, La Bisch uses both ingenuity and enormous physical effort to attempt to block the movement of a train laden with stolen art, eastbound from Paris.
The plot twists are the stuff of legend, and each twist provokes controversial positions regarding the importance of art and the brevity of human life.
The long shot action scenes in this film are brilliant, and Lancaster, who was injured during filming, performs much of the extraordinary scenes in the movie with a real (not feigned) limp.
Fine ensemble cast, including many of the best French character actors of the time, a serious script saved by brevity from the melodramatic and arguably the best camerawork and editing of any action film in history (you read right) make this film superior to Frankenheimer's other B&W films from the period (e.g., The Manchurian Candidate and even The Birdman of Alcatraz).
The Train belongs in any serious English language cine collection. This is one of the top 100 films of all time.
On a superficial level "The Train" is the last of the "full-scale" action films. They blow up everything in sight for real, they crash real steam-locomotives, and many of the actors are doing their own stunts. In fact Burt Lancaster not only does all his own stunts, he stands in for other actors too!
But unlike most action-flicks, "The Train" goes deeper. Lancaster plays the French resistance leader asked to stop Nazi Colonel Paul Schofeild from leaving Paris with a train load of paintings. "Let them have the paintings," Lancaster replies. He doesn't see the point in risking anyone's life for a work of art. "But they are the soul of France". And this is where the real interest (and the subtext) starts.
Imagine your house is on fire. You run inside and you can save your favorite pet, or the Van Gogh hanging on the wall. What do you choose? Well that's the thesis behind "The Train" - why are these paintings worth dying for? Why are they worth killing for? (Incidentally Lancaster took a similar position a few years later in "Castle Keep"). Lancaster could care less about the paintings. And Schofeild will kill anyone and anything that tries to stop him leaving with them. Not only is it a clash of cultures, it's a clash about culture.Read more ›
Close to the end of the war, while withdrawing, the Nazis attempted to lute famous French museums, and transport to Germany art treasures, hundreds of paintings of world fame - part of France's national identity. Among many popular French performers, such as Michel Simon ("Le diable et les dix commandements") and Jeanne Moreau ("Jules et Jim") - remember ? we've seen her in Beson's "La Femme Nikita") shine America's unforgettable Burt Lancaster as Labiche, the French "cheminot" who opposes England's Paul Scofield, perfectly cast as von Waldheim, the German colonel obsessed with "his mission" to "save" the painting by having them transported by train from Paris to Berlin.
Real life adventure with a believable plot, attention to details, image, dialogues, and ever growing tension until the final "denouement". It's the same director who gave us the more recent "Ronin" (filmed in France), and classics, such as "Seven Days in May" (also with Burt Lancaster) and "The Manchurian Candidate", and, if want to see more of Paul Scofield, consider watching one more time, Fred Zinneman's "A Man of All Seasons".
Very good DVD rendition of a truly great film from John Frankenheimer !
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This film, "The Train", offers some reasonably involved dramatic tension and suspense, is well-paced, and has a musical score composed by the late Maurice Jarre that is alternately... Read morePublished 1 month ago by L. Spain
Lancaster is the best. Bought this as a gift for my husband. During his time in the reserves he worked on trains.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
If you like war movies with plenty of action you must have this film. It's not only a great WWII film it's one of the best films of all time, period.Published 1 month ago by R J R
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