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Author Topic: The Train (1964)  (Read 12083 times)
The Peacemaker
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« on: July 30, 2006, 02:35:51 PM »

I've seen this movie even when I was a kid but I saw it again last night and it really is a great film. Burt Lancaster is so cool as Labiche, the French Resistance member trying to stop the art train bound for Germany. All the explosions and train wrecks are real, none of this CGI crap! It even has SW veteran Donald O' Brien as a Nazi Sargeant.

If you haven't seen this film, you're missing out on one of the greatest action films of all time.

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« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2006, 02:43:43 PM »

Yes...one fine movie... Cool

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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2006, 05:59:53 PM »

Farnkenheimer's career was certianly an odd one. At one point he seemed to be the major dissident voice in Hollywood, making extremely Expressionist looking movies with an ultra-sour outlook on the American way of life, yet doing so in big budget prductions with big star names.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, BIRD MAN OF ALCATRAZ, SEVEN DAYS IN MAY and (especially) SECONDS are incredible films. SECONDS, made following THE TRAIN is an unclassifyable oddity, an experimental art film starring (of all people) Rock Hudson. It's ending is on a par with LA DOLCE VITA, in the way images and sound convay a meaning reaching beyond the limits of languge, in a similar coastal setting.

THE TRAIN is indeed a fabulous action picture, with it's undoubted highlight the huge set piece arial boming scene of the rail-yard, with much of the action captured in a single, spectacular long take. The film's bleak ending, with it's seeming futility was so typical of Frankenheimer at that time.

Then he made the massivly budgeted GRAND PRIX, and his films seemed to go all to hell. It was such a flop he struggled to recover artistically, with the small film triumph of THE GYPSY MOTHS (possibly Burt Lancaster's finest performance, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS excepted) and a credible sequil in THE FRENCH CONNECTION II.

Apart from that, a long string of anonimous failures which any hack could have turned out. Good he suddnly found his form again on RONIN, one of his last ever movies, but it'll be for his extraordinary work in the 1960's that he'll always be remembered.

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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2006, 06:06:18 PM »

Farnkenheimer's career was certianly an odd one. At one point he seemed to be the major dissident voice in Hollywood, making extremely Expressionist looking movies with an ultra-sour outlook on the American way of life, yet doing so in big budget prductions with big star names.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, BIRD MAN OF ALCATRAZ, SEVEN DAYS IN MAY and (especially) SECONDS are incredible films. SECONDS, made following THE TRAIN is an unclassifyable oddity, an experimental art film starring (of all people) Rock Hudson. It's ending is on a par with LA DOLCE VITA, in the way images and sound convay a meaning reaching beyond the limits of languge, in a similar coastal setting.

THE TRAIN is indeed a fabulous action picture, with it's undoubted highlight the huge set piece arial boming scene of the rail-yard, with much of the action captured in a single, spectacular long take. The film's bleak ending, with it's seeming futility was so typical of Frankenheimer at that time.

Then he made the massivly budgeted GRAND PRIX, and his films seemed to go all to hell. It was such a flop he struggled to recover artistically, with the small film triumph of THE GYPSY MOTHS (possibly Burt Lancaster's finest performance, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS excepted) and a credible sequil in THE FRENCH CONNECTION II.

Apart from that, a long string of anonimous failures which any hack could have turned out. Good he suddnly found his form again on RONIN, one of his last ever movies, but it'll be for his extraordinary work in the 1960's that he'll always be remembered.

The Train was an artistic movie, but Rock Hudson wasn't in it. That was Burt Lancaster!

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2006, 06:36:55 PM »

As I said, SECONDS, (made after THE TRAIN) stars Rock Hudson. A few typo's sure, but I thought my grammer was pretty sound.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060955/

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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2006, 09:35:22 PM »

Yes a great film, especially for railroad buffs, and one of Frankenheimers best. Saw it at Loews Triboro in Astoria Queens on the big screen.

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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2006, 08:18:37 AM »

Lancaster is nobody's idea of a Frenchman, but setting that aside, The Train is a remarkable action film. Since Lancaster did his own stunts, and the special effects are all practical ones, the action has an authenticity rarely seen in films. Friedkin learned everything from Frankenheimer.

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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2006, 09:03:01 AM »

SECONDS is one of those movies one wonders whether he is the only one to appreciate. Then one discovers that they are just vanished, for no apparent reason. In Italy it passed just once on the public channel about 15 years ago and never had the chance to watch it again. I remember though that after a brilliant start the movie dragged a little bit in the middle part.
About Ronin, I don't think it can compare with Frankenheimer's best.



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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2006, 09:27:55 AM »

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!

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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2006, 11:55:09 AM »

Quote
I hate, hate, hate Ronin.

  Any reason?  Cause I'm getting the feeling you didn't like it too much.  Just a guess though.

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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2006, 05:40:11 PM »

I'm not especially a "fan" of RONIN either, I was just glad to see, on the only occasion I've watched it, that Frankenheimer had regained some of the power he once commanded so effortlessly. Starring Rock Hudson Bay Company and Burk Lanchaster Bomber of course.

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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2008, 05:00:35 PM »

I've seen The Train a couple of times, but I didn't know too much about the production itself.  I didn't realize that John Frankenheimer was a replacement director.  Arthur Penn was the original director of the film and actually shot one day.  Lancaster didn't like his vision of the film and replaced him with Frankenheimer.  Lancaster had worked with Frankenheimer before on The Young Savages and Birdman Of Alcatraz.  Besides having some kind of comfort level, Lancaster felt that he could have greater control over the production with Frankenheimer at the helm.   

Maybe some were already aware of that.  I found some comments by Penn in a recent newspaper interview.  When I was looking at the site for the Museum Of Modern Art for OUATITW information, I noticed they had another film exhibition series on films that have notable jazz scores.  One of the films featured is Mickey One (1965) by Arthur Penn.  I think that film has already been shown.  In the New York Sun, they had an article that included a recent phone interview with Penn.  He talks a little about the undertaking of Mickey One and how it was a rebound project for him.  Apparently, he was quite upset with having been replaced as director on another film.  Sounds like it's still a sore spot for him. 

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The film was very much a reaction to its times, Mr. Penn said. "I was pissed off at the movie business. I had started to work on a film with Burt Lancaster, but it turned out he had made a secret deal with John Frankenheimer to take it over. Burt arrived and had me fired."

Eager to create something he could shove in Hollywood's face, Mr. Penn also was responding to the previous decade in American life. "The paranoia? Oh yeah. The heritage of the McCarthy era. He scared a whole generation."

It was pretty obvious the film was The Train.  The film definitely turned out great under the direction of Frankenheimer.  So good, it's amazing to think that it had suspended production and underwent a rewrite.

This is the link for the entire article if interested: 
http://www2.nysun.com/article/74781?page_no=1

This is what IMDb had:

Director Arthur Penn oversaw the development of the film and directed the first day of shooting. The next day was a holiday. Lancaster, dissatisfied with Penn's conception of the picture, had him fired and replaced by John Frankenheimer. Penn envisioned a more intimate film that would muse on the role art played in the French character, and why they would risk their lives to save the country's great art from the Nazis. He did not intend to give much focus to the mechanics of the train operation itself. Frankenheimer said that in the original script Penn wanted to shoot, the train did not leave the station until page 90. The production was shut down briefly while a the script was rewritten. Lancaster told screenwriter Walter Bernstein the day Penn was fired, "Frankenheimer is a bit of a whore, but he'll do what I want." What Lancaster wanted was more emphasis on action in order to ensure that the film was a hit after the failure of "The Leopard" by appealing to a broader audience.




 

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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2008, 06:13:46 AM »

"Frankenheimer is a bit of a whore, but he'll do what I want."

Ouch! Thanks a producer talking alright.

Frankenhiemer's take on the subject, from the book THE CINEMA OF JOHN FRANKENHEIMER (Gerald Pratley).

"The Train was a film I had no intention of ever doing. There was another director on the film and he'd been shooting for two weeks and he left. I don't really know to this day exactly what happened. There was a conflict of personalities, a conflct over the type of film being made. I think the director, Arthur Penn, wanted to do one film, the producer and Lancaster wanted to do another. Penn has certainly proved he can make the type of film he wants to do with Bonnie and Clyde, so I think it was a difference of concept rather than anything else. Burt called me and asked if I would come over to France and direct it. I'd just finished Seven Days in May, I was quite tired. I didn't want to do it, yet he asked me to do it as a favour to him. And also, I wanted to go to Europe. On the way I read through the script. It was delivered to me just as I got on the plane. I thought it was almost appalling, neither fish nor fowl. The damned train didn't leave the station until page 140. When I arrived in Paris we shut down the production and re-wrote the script. I'd brought over Ned Young (he's dead now), and Howard Infell, and we re-wrote it."

He goes to reveal that shooting in the autumn proved impossible due to fog, freezing conditions and the leaves falling off all the trees (the film takes place in August). Incredibly the entire film was shut down again and shooting re-started in the spring next year for more re-writes and re-shoots. Frankenheimer took the opportunity for a long holiday tour of Europe with his wife, which he fondly recalled as "most revealing and enjoyable". He also remembered that seven movie cameras were demolished in accidents when shooting the train wrecks. He also laments that "Ideally, it should have been spoken in French with English subtitles, but you cannot do this with an expensive film made for the mass market."

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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2008, 10:50:14 AM »

Yes.  That was a harsh statement.  I like Burt Lancaster, but I guess he could be like that.  Not sure what the source was for that quote, it was from IMDb.
 
Thanks for the passage from the book giving Frankenheimer's perspective.  Although Frankenheimer was brought aboard by Lancaster in that way, no doubt he took the reins of the production.  Even though Lancaster may of felt he could exert influence on Frankenheimer, it's clear that Frankenheimer was certain of the direction he wanted to go in his treatment of the material.  Interesting about his thoughts on the language treatment as well.   

Just remarkable, despite the changes, numerous rewrites and stops in production, the difficulties in shooting with conditions....that the film came off so well.

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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2008, 02:13:26 PM »

Not only did it come off well, but it was a huge box-office success.

I'm glad Frankenheimer took over production. It's a thrilling action film with a touch of art and class. Plus it was cool to see Lancaster operating the old French steamers.

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