The Train (1964) Short Review

It’s always nice to find an old film that is considered a classic and then find it better than expected. I’ve always enjoyed what Burt Lancaster brings to the table, director John Frankenheimer generally delivers very intelligent thrillers and I love films about World War II, so I was expecting a lot already.

The script lays a very solid foundation for everything else. The subject matter was very well researched. This isn’t just the typical shoot em’ up. There are some spectacular sequences involving the trains.

The movie has many, MANY complications, but a rather simple premise. Towards the end of WWII, the Nazis try to take a number of treasured paintings (by the likes of Renoir and Van Gogh). The French Resistance try to stop it.

Lancaster plays a train engineer (and Resistance fighter) who doesn’t believe in risking French lives to save art (especially when the Allies are due to liberate France at any moment), is forced by the Nazis to drive the train to Germany. That’s all you need  to know.


Lancaster is one of the better action heroes you’ll ever find. He’s equally adept in the acting as well as the athletics (and he’s one of the most athletic actors Hollywood’s ever come across).

His character Labiche uses his brain as much as his brawn in the film. The former acrobat does all of his own stunts and makes it look easy until his character… Well, see it for yourself.

Paul Scofield is one of the many great supporting characters in the film. His art loving Nazi is not the typical villain. His motivations are nearly as fully realized as Labiche.

The framing of the entire film is very artistic. It’s a gritty atmosphere, you can almost smell the oil, coal and metal of the locomotives. The characters are constantly covered in grease and sweat.

I loved the questions raised about what is fought for in the film. I also love that the main character never really fights for what everyone else is fighting for, even right to the end.  Just a great movie, one of best of everyone involved. It’s worth repeat viewings.

5 of 5 whatevers.


Advertisements

5 Responses to “The Train (1964) Short Review”

  1. Crash! Landen Says:

    I agree. It’s an impressively made film. Since I like World War II stories, textured big screen cinematography and trains in general; it was hard to dislike this. Thanks for posting and the link.

  2. John Smith Says:

    This is actually David Parks again and please delete this. I only posted again to remove my original email address which continued to appear here after I posted my comment.

    David

  3. David Parks Says:

    Hi,

    Great to find two more fans of “The Train”. I first saw it in the cinema back in the 1960s and it left a lasting impression on me. I collect anything to do with the movie and today I bought a dvd on eBay “La Passion des Trains #33” which is an account of the making of the movie and shows some of the best scenes in FULL COLOUR and interviews Papa Boule etc. Link here: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290538568371&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT#ht_500wt_1156

    I have to agree with John, not only is it one of the most authentic railway films ever made but it is right up there in terms of one of the greatest movies ever made.

    Cheers.

    David

  4. Crash! Landen Says:

    Hey, thanks for all of the info! It is an impressive film. I really liked it, also. I don’t think it would be in my Top 10 of all time, but it is a great film.

  5. john duval Says:

    ABOUT 4 YEARS AGO I BOUGHT “THE TRAIN”, DIRECTORS COMMENTARY
    VERSION. FRANKENHIMER RELATED THE STORY THAT LANCASTER DID HIS OWN
    STUNTS.NOT ONLY DID HE DO HIS OWN STUNTS BUT HE SUBBED FOR OTHER ACTORS IN THE MOVIE. ONE GROUP OF STUNTS LANCASTER PLAYS A TEENAGED BOY CLIMBING AROUND ON A TRAIN STATION TILE ROOF. NONE OF THESE STUNTS WOULD BE ALLOWED TODAY BY A TOP ACTOR SUCH AS LANCASTER. ALL OF THE STUNTS WERE 5 STAR DANGEROUS.

    LANCASTER AND THE OTHER TOP ACTORS IN THIS MOVIE LEARNED TO DRIVE
    THE STEAM ENGINES AND DROVE THEM IN THE MOVIE. LANCASTER ACTULLY LEARNED TO REPAIR A BUSHING IN ONE OF A LOCOMOTIVE’S DRIVERS. THIS
    ENTAILS CASTING MOLTEN BRONSE AND LIFTING THE 200 POUND DRIVER AND CARRING IT 50 FEET WITH THE USE OF A CRAIN.

    FRANKENHIMER RELATED SOME OF THE HARDSHIPS OF THIS MOVIE. THIS MOVIE WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO TAKE 3 MONTHS IN PRODUCTION BUT IT TOOK OVER ONE YEAR. IN ACTUAL HISTORY THIS MOVIE WAS TO TAKE PLACE IN AUGUST, BUT MOST OF THE CAMERA SHOTS WERE DONE IN THE COLDEST
    MONTHS OF PARIS AND IT SHOWS. LANDCASTER BROKE HIS ANKLE ,PLAYING OF ALL THINGS GOLF. FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE MOVIE LANCASTER IS ALLOWED TO LIMP. HE WAS SHOT IN THE LEG WHILE RUNNING ACROSS A BRIDGE FOR THE MOVIE, BY THE GERMANS. DURING THE SHOOTING OF THE MOVIE FRANKENHIMER GOT PNEUMONIA AND WAS LAYED UP FOR 5 WEEKS.

    THIS IS NOT JUST A GOOD MOVIE. THIS IS A GREAT MOVIE AND LANCASTER PULLS IT OFF AS A FRENCH RAILROAD SUPERINTENDANT. THIS ,IN MY OPINION,
    IS ONE OF GREATEST TOP 10 MOVIES EVER MADE.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: