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Von Ryan's Express
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"Von Ryan's Express" was a major 1960s war movie. Seeing it again after all that time I am pleased to say that it has lost none of its zip. Frank Sinatra plays Colonel "Von" Ryan, a shot-down US fighter pilot captured by the Italians, who at that time are fighting on the Axis side. When Ryan reaches the camp he finds that the mostly British prisoners are dirty, unkempt, and defiant against their Italian captors. Ryan (who is the ranking POW officer) is at first is reluctant to assume command, but eventually decides that the British approach is futile and bad for the soldiers, and spit-and-polish becomes the order of the day. Ryan's reasoning is that it is pointless to risk lives trying to escape since the advancing American Army is expected to liberate the camp within weeks. Ryan's tough approach to discipline, and his willingness to nominally cooperate with the Italian command earns him the name "Von" Ryan from the British commander (well-played as usual by Trevor Howard) based on the accusation that Ryan has more in common with the German enemy than Allied soldiers.

Eventually the camp is freed from Italian control, and that is where the fun begins. This is a rousing, rocking story of POW escape with a twist, and anyone who enjoys war flicks will enjoy this one. Highly recommended. RJB.
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on March 17, 2009
Von Ryan's Express is one of Sinatra's best starring roles. Sinatra, notorious for only doing one or two takes per scene, turns in a fine performance. He hated doing more than a couple of takes because he felt it caused the "freshness" of the scene becoming "stale". In Von Ryan's Express he got all of his scenes right.

Col. Ryan (Sinatra) is an American Army Air Corps pilot that is shot down over Italy near the end of the Italian Campaign. One of the earliest scenes sets the tone of the movie: The Germans go to the crash site to capture the pilot but the Italians have already gotten him; in an act of defiance they tell the Germans he never got out of the burning wreckage. When the Germans leave the Italian soldiers blow a raspberry. When they part there's Col. Ryan drinking from a wine bottle. He's taken to a POW camp that's run by the Italians. Maj. Fincham (Trevor Howard) is in charge of the POW's due to the C.O. having just passed away the previous night. The camp is mostly British with only a handful of Americans present. Ryan issues new orders that all escape attempts are to cease immediately (thus the new name, Von Ryan). His reasoning is that they won't be prisoners longer than 90 days. Ryan is appalled at the malaria that's rampant & the filthy rags the prisoners are wearing.

Battaglia (Adolfo Celi) is the Italian camp commander & is a petty tyrant who's been using the Red Cross supplies for the prisoners as a supplement to his income by dealing them on the black market. His aide, Capt. Oriani (Sergio Fantoni) is much more sympathetic & caring. He, in fact, becomes part of the later escape attempt.

Edward Mulhare portrays Constanzo, a priest. He plays a pivotal role later in the film because he is fluent in German thus enabling the escape attempt to a further degree.

Wolfgang Preiss portrays Maj. von Kleinment, the commander of the prisoner train.

There's also Brad Dexter as Sgt. Bostick. Dexter being the least successful, at least as an actor, of the cast from The Magnificent 7. James Brolin has a small role as Pvt. Ames.

Von Ryan's express is an extremely well paced film directed by Mark Robson. There's hardly a slow minute nor anything that terribly stretches the credibility of the events that are shown. Col. Ryan is an extremely likable character that has everyone's best interests in mind. This is one of those films that I hope the ending will be different each time that I watch it; I know that to be an impossibility but just once I'd like to see Col. Ryan make the escape.

This version of Von Ryan's Express has a bonus disc full of bonus features. The film is in excellent condition & is in the widescreen format.
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on October 5, 2015
One of my favorite Frank Sinatra movies. I first saw this movie when it came out at the movies (yes, I am a little older..heh) Good story line. Good action. If you've not seen it.... then I won't give you any spoilers. But it is a good action movie. Not just a war one.

Wish Prime would put up "Devil at 4 O'clock", "Robin and the & Hoods" and "On the Town" (hint hint)
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on March 1, 2018
Would not play in my DVD player nor my desktop PC. It did play in my HP laptop.

3/3/2018 Update: I found a problem with my DVD player so disregard my comment
above about this disc not working in my DVD player.
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on November 13, 2013
It has been years since I recall catching this movie on television. I had no idea what it was called and had, unfortunately, never had the opportunity to finish watching it. Obviously, it was very thought provoking given I'd thought about it on and off over the years. After running a series of searches, I had finally discovered the name and ordered it. As soon as it came, I sat right down to watch it from beginning to end. I can't say what it was about it which kept me thinking about all this time whether it was the chemistry among so many talented veteran actors, the subject matter or simply the story itself. But, together, they make for an exciting adventure film!
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on July 16, 2013
I owned this movie for many years, it has always been my favorite. I lost it and was finnaly able to get another copy. Life as we know life is full of changes some good some bad, but its nice to return to something that makes you feel better about a bad situation. When you see the prisoners escape from a prison camp and fight their way to freedom you will realize that there is always hope and you should never give upin any situation. This movie makes you feel good.
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on June 9, 2016
One of Frank Sinatra's best performances.t is a different kind of "military" picture. Much less blood and gore, more thinking. I like that.
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on March 19, 2014
A Giant of an action movie. The movie begins with the Italian Surrender to the Allies. It chronicles the plight of Allied POWs held in mainland Italy after the Italian Surrender and the German invasion of Italy. It follows the action and adventures of a group of POWs who escape their German Guards and try to make their way to Neutral Switzerland. Great cinematography indeed. The movie contains a lot of outdoor action. Very thrilling and A Must own!
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on February 7, 2012
One of my fav films . I bought this on VHS years ago for my now late father. He loved it and I enjoyed it so much I also bought a copy .
Being from NJ many people knew Mr .Sinatra ( my ex father in law grew up with him ) his works are without compare .
I bought this again as it reminds me of the times dad and I would set and watch old sci fi films , Abbott and Costello and of course Mr Sinatra .
Tevor Howard is a fine English actor and has much to his credit , I do feel Edward Mulhare stole the show as he impersonated an arrogant German officer .
If you like something thats actually light , yes a war movie , and enjoy rooting for the good guys this film is it!
we baby boomers must have good taste as my nephew has asked to borrow Von Ryans .....
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on August 3, 2007
This entertaining Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard movie is a lighter version of "The Bridge over the River Kwai". I wonder if that is how the writers sold the idea to a studio. Only the Allied prisoners are in 1943 Italy not Burma. British prisoners resist their captors' attempts to break their spirit in a similar "Bridge over the River Kwai" fashion. The hot box from the earlier movie sees duty here. The few American prisoners show more flexibility and are accused of being opportunists by the British. However, then the parallel breaks down. The Italian war effort collapses and the prisoners flee their unguarded prison. Now Von Ryan's express becomes an escape movie and a rather enjoyable series of deadly encounters and close calls. The movie was made too long after the war to have the conviction and passion of movies made immediately during and after the war. Stereo types assert themselves: we know the Germans are bad but efficient. We know that Italians, for the most part, are a decent if excitable people. Americans can be misunderstood by the British because they are pragmatists. The ending is not quite happy. This is war after all. And war, in the pre-Vietnam 1960s, is, if not quite hell, then, at least, heck. While enjoying the adventure in times of peace, we forget the pain, the humiliation, the torment of real war.
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