Top positive review
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Great World War Two POW Yarn!
on February 3, 2012
"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.