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Customer Review

on January 16, 2007
Sinatra is a cool American, whose P-38 is shot down over Italy in August 1943... The Allies were landing in Southern Italy, when Ryan is brought to an Italian prisoner of war camp...

Sensing that the end is underway, the Italians were trying to get out of the war, and the Nazis were trying to keep the Allies out and the Italians in...

A Fascist bully (Adolfo Celi) has ruled the POW camp, but with the collapse of Italian rule, he is thrown out...

The British prisoners - professional soldiers of the 9th Fusiliers, whose constant attempts to escape have led to half rations and the withholding of medicine - headed by a heated Major (Trevor Howard), are not in agreement with the unpopular pilot, Colonel Joseph Ryan... They think him insufficiently hostile to the Italians and have given an insulting 'von" to his name, insisting that he is in the wrong army...

The British get along with Ryan, however, when the escape is engineered... They seize a German train, and, impersonating German troops even as they evade German pursuers, try to make a run for it to the Swiss border... The viewers can forget about realism from that moment on... 'Von Ryan's Express' is pure adventure and courts no moral dilemmas in its story...

Director Mark Robson tries to combine the suspense of 'The Great Escape' with the exciting action of 'The Guns of Navarone,' and he's successful enough... The pace is quick... The Italian locations are attractive... The confrontations with German troops are well handled...

Ryan is a pragmatic character not unlike the far more tragic Col. Nicholson in 'The Bridge on the River Kwai.' As a colonel master-minding commando raids, he brings the film to a great climax on an Alpine viaduct...

With the exception of a strange and shocking scene where a sexy escapee is gunned down in the back, ' Von Ryan's Express' gives us the necessary thrills to be pleased...
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