Von Ryan's Express belongs to the dying days of WW2-as-Boys-Own-adventure movies, where, for all the cynical window-dressing, the good guys can always outwit overwhelming numbers of Nazis and death is still heroic. It's also much more entertaining than it has any right to be as Frank Sinatra's unpopular new senior officer leads several hundred prisoners of war to freedom by hijacking a Nazi train and conning his way through Italy to Switzerland while Trevor Howard's old school British officer snipes at his bad form all the way and Edward Mulhare's loveable padre impersonates a German officer to get them past the checkpoints. Yep, it's The Great Escape meets The Train, with Great Escaper John Leyton along for the ride just in case anyone misses the connection. As big, not quite as dumb as it could be entertainment it certainly does the trick, throwing in an enjoyable if sparse Jerry Goldsmith score and a particularly memorable finale.
While the current single-disc UK PAL DVD only has a theatrical trailer as extra, first-time buyers might want to opt for the Region 1 NTSC 2-disc edition instead, although for those who already have the film the 2-DVD release really is hard to recommend for any but hardcore Jerry Goldsmith fans, the only notable extras being an isolated score track and a brief featurette on the composer. Aside from trailers and TV spots, the rest is made up with talking heads background featurettes with none of the films surviving participants contributing. Even worse is the fact that brief clips are used from a vintage behind the scenes short made during production, but the short itself is not included. It's fine for a first-time buy, but not really worth an upgrade if you already have the previous edition.