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: The Train (1964)  ( 14862 )
Groggy
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This post gets Agnew's stamp of approval!


« #15 : September 02, 2008, 11:12:33 PM »

I wrote this IMDB comment awhile ago, but I thought I'd share since I rewatched the movie over the weekend. I would love to write a much longer, more in-depth essay about this film, if I had the time or resources to do so.

Quote
During the last days of Germany's occupation of France, German Colonel Von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) arranges for a collection of priceless art from a French museum to be shipped via train to Germany. The museum curator (Suzanne Flon) enlists a cell of French Resistance fighters, led by railroad inspector Paul Labiche (Burt Lancaster), to rescue the paintings "for the glory of France." Labiche refuses to waste lives saving paintings, but a complicated series of events results in Labiche commandeering the train anyway. However, Von Waldheim is obsessive about his cargo, and Labiche and his colleagues must go to extreme lengths to stop him.

The Train is a truly brilliant movie. As a rousing action film, it is among the best of its kind. It also works as a thoughtful mediation on the cost and meaning of warfare. Skillful direction by John Frankenheimer and two extremely talented leads cause both ends of the film to come off extremely well.

The movie is brutally honest in its examination of war. Labiche says early on that paintings aren't worth risking lives, and a comparison between the value of human life and the value - artistic and monetary - of the art is repeatedly raised. Dozens of lives - French and German - are lost during the mission, callously thrown away to preserve the paintings. Labiche doesn't understand why so many people must die for the sake of art - but that, in and of itself, is largely the film's message. At one point, Boule (Michel Simon), the cranky old engineer assigned to drive the train, justifies the mission by tying it to "the glory of France". It doesn't seem overly convincing to the audience, but then, is saving paintings representing France's national heritage any less of an abstract idea than patriotism itself? If nothing else, the paintings serve as a physical manifestation of national pride, and they are a viable object to fight for - something that can be touched. The brilliant climax, however, provides a stark and brutal answer to Labiche's dilemma; afterward, there can be no question what he values most.

First and foremost, however, the movie is an action film. On a technical level, it is brilliant. The film has an atmosphere of gritty realism which has rarely been surpassed by films of this type. The Train is filmed in crisp black-and-white, which adds immeasurably to the movie's stark, gritty feel. Labiche's heroics remain completely within the realm of the possible, and he wins more or less by luck. There are many impressively-staged sets, with steady dolly shots and pans around crowded rooms and station platforms. The movie's set-pieces are brilliantly staged, including the air raid on the train station, the massive train crash using three real locomotives, and the final confrontation between Labiche and Waldheim. Few war films are as realistic and believable as this, while remaining entertaining and exciting. Maurice Jarre contributes a subtle, effective score to the proceedings.

Burt Lancaster gives a truly exceptional performance as Labiche. An actor capable of over-acting on occasions, Lancaster restrains himself and gives a serious, thoughtful turn as the French Resistance fighter who is forced into a mission he doesn't believe in, who values the lives of his colleagues over abstract ideals and suicide missions. He performs his own stunts, and his physicality serves the role very well. Labiche is tough but not indestructible; but in the end, he is a man who will simply not be stopped, regardless of his personal feelings or the obstacles in his path.

Just as impressive is Lancaster's counterpart, the late, great Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons). His character is obsessed, but not insane. As a man who appreciates the art, he feels it his duty to save the paintings, and will go to any length at all to save them. Scofield gives a fiery, intense performance, making Waldheim a sympathetic and well-rounded character. His final speech to Labiche, as they face-off beside the wrecked train, is poignant and moving in its own twisted way, spelling out the themes of the movie in a most eloquent manner.

Supporting the two leads are a roll call of top-notch French and German talent: Jeanne Moreau as a French war widow who briefly romances Labiche; Suzanne Flon as the idealistic, determined curator; Albert Remy, Charles Millot, Michel Simon, and Jacques Marin as Labiche's colleagues; Wolfgang Priess, Richard Munch and Jean Bouchard as Von Waldheim's colleagues and henchmen.

The Train is simply one of the best, most realistic and entertaining war films of all time. It is to the immense credit of Frankenheimer and his skilled cast and crew that they were able to pull off both realism and entertainment without sacrificing one or the other. 9/10


I'm very seriously considering bumping this rating up to a 10/10.

« : September 02, 2008, 11:14:13 PM Groggy »


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« #16 : September 02, 2008, 11:18:55 PM »


I agree Groggy that this is an exceptional film.




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« #17 : May 03, 2009, 08:10:28 PM »

Way to go, Hulu! http://www.hulu.com/watch/70571/the-train



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« #18 : May 03, 2009, 08:48:54 PM »

I hate, hate, hate Ronin.

Seconds I like, except for the ending. Okay, so it's frightening, but it leaves a lot of questions unanswered, especially: why does Seconds Inc. do what it does? Where does the money come from? Before Rock Hudson went all un-cooperative, what did they expect to get out of him?

A puzzled viewer is not a satisfied viewer!

yeah, I love Seconds but it is rushed, especially the conclusion. The movie could have ventured into many different territories and doesn't really choose any, still an excellent movie.

Before Rock Hudson went all un-cooperative, what did they expect to get out of him?

a happy customer? or am I missing something?



Claudia, we need you to appear in LOST COMMAND. It's gonna revolutionize the war genre..
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« #19 : May 04, 2009, 07:47:12 AM »

Before Rock Hudson went all un-cooperative, what did they expect to get out of him?

a happy customer? or am I missing something?
Did he pay? I didn't see any money change hands.



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« #20 : February 02, 2014, 01:39:15 PM »

From Twilight Time: THE TRAIN (1964) BLU-RAY - June 10th



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« #21 : February 03, 2014, 03:39:34 PM »

Wow, crap. Thanks for posting all of this news.

There's another one I'm going to drop 35 on.



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« #22 : May 23, 2014, 07:40:06 PM »

Ooo, ooo, ooo! A vintage French Making Of! It's not subtitled in English, but . . . all the footage is in color! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2pEvr32C7g

Way cool!



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« #23 : June 08, 2014, 02:48:18 PM »

TT Blu-ray at the Post Office! (delivery tomorrow) O0



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« #24 : June 09, 2014, 11:05:12 AM »

TT Blu in da house!  O0  O0



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« #25 : June 10, 2014, 03:42:15 AM »

DJ, don't forget to make another post to let us know when TT blu-ray is in the player. And another one to let us know when the popcorn is in the microwave and the beer is on ice. (If you use enough butter on the popcorn and the beer is a wheat beer, I just may have to join you ;)
Happy viewing!


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« #26 : June 10, 2014, 05:37:41 AM »

Yeah, I'll keep you informed.

The Train disc got side-tracked (he he, geddit?) last night on account of the fact The Mechanic came in at the same time and it has better gay subtext.

So maybe I'll get to The Train tonight (except my copies of CC's L'eclisse and All That Heaven Allows come in today--I'm getting swamped here! And my Tokyo trip is tomorrow! I'm never gonna get caught up!)



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« #27 : June 10, 2014, 09:57:59 AM »

Tokyo trip tomorrow? YOU'RE GONNA MISS THE MORRICONE CONCERT!! ;)
 L'eclisse is not the kinda movie i can ever watch more than once.


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« #28 : June 11, 2014, 09:50:17 AM »

Commentary by Redman/Kirgo/Seydor listened to--not something I ever want to sit through again. Well, at least I had really pretty pictures to watch. I haven't listened to the director's commentary yet, but I remember it from the LD days (that makes it 20 years old at least!). Then there's the isolated score--man, when am I gonna have time for all this?

Image-wise, the new TT is fabulous.



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« #29 : June 11, 2014, 09:51:46 AM »

L'eclisse is not the kinda movie i can ever watch more than once.
Gonna watch the DVD on the flight over. Here's a case where the dual-format release really comes in handy.



That's what you get, Drink, for not appreciating the genius of When You Read This Letter.
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