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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best WW2 thrillers ever made
The Train is one of those films that is really more European than American. John Frankenheimer (taking over from Arthur Penn) was always the American director who was most influenced by French cinema, with the result that this, the last major action film shot in black and white, has more of a low-key more continental feel to it than a Hollywood one - aside from Burt...
Published on 27 Nov. 2006 by Trevor Willsmer

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars good
Good film
Published 6 days ago by michael flude


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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best WW2 thrillers ever made, 27 Nov. 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
The Train is one of those films that is really more European than American. John Frankenheimer (taking over from Arthur Penn) was always the American director who was most influenced by French cinema, with the result that this, the last major action film shot in black and white, has more of a low-key more continental feel to it than a Hollywood one - aside from Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield (who for once comes perilously close to ham without ever quite crossing the line) and La Silence de la Mer's Howard Vernon, the cast is made up almost entirely of the great and good of French cinema, from Jeanne Moreau to Michel Simon. What's more, the realistic style - more pre-war French cinema than nouvelle vague - sells the action scenes which, in other hands, could become pure comic book stuff a la Von Ryan's Express. The fact that the key action scenes are done `for real,' with a condemned railway yard blown up during the air raid sequence and real locomotives crashing into each other, only shows up the weightless artificiality of much modern CGI or of the miniature work of the day. The crash in particular, which destroyed one camera, has a sense of weight and violence to it that you just don't see in films anymore. Still impressive stuff.

Sadly, John Frankenheimer's audio commentary included on the R1 NTSC DVD is NOT included on the R2 release - a great pity, since it's particularly good and enlightening. Very highly recommended nonetheless.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Train - Excellent War Film, 30 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
This is an excellent and highly distinctive war film with plenty of action but also an intelligent subtext about our attitudes to war and art. The latter is noteworthy but it is not done in a way that intrudes on the film's primary function - to entertain. What really stand out are the real-life action sequences involving genuine trains (many of which get destroyed!) and which give the film an authenticity that simply cannot be re-created by modern CGI techniques, no matter how sophisticated. Filmed at a time when the French steam locomotives (and much of traditional French railway infrastructure) was being run down, the film makers were pretty much given carte blanche to play with and destroy at will; that may seem like heresy to railway lovers today but as all of these trains were destined for the scrap yard anyway this wasn't then the case. Although the film does have a gritty, realistic feel, some elements of the plot don't bear too much close scrutiny. Burt Lancaster's character seems to have an encylopedic knowledge of all aspects of railway operation, being an expert signaller, mechanic, platelayer and engine driver all rolled into one, as well as being versed in wartime resistance techniques! Key to the plot is a plan to kid the Germans that a train conveying looted art works is passing numerous locations en route to Germany when in fact it is taking a totally different route back to Paris, a deception arranged at very short notice, but"fake" station signs etc. are somehow all immediately available! However, a reasonable degree of poetic licence is forgiveable in what is primarily an action movie.

As was customary, the athletic Burt Lancaster did all of his own stunts which also adds to the realistic feel of the film, but there is an ironic twist. According to legend, having jumped out of windows, climbed high walls, slid down ladders etc. Lancaster had a day off playing golf, stepped into a hole and badly twisted his knee! The scene in the film where he is actually shot escaping from the train was included to account for the fact that he has a (real) limp for the second half of the film.

One gripe, not about the film but about the DVD case. Unwary purchasers could well be fooled by the colour pictures on the DVD case into thinking that the film itself is in colour (it is actually black & white - one of the last big action movies to be shot this way). You will find a reference to the film being shot in b & w in the small print on the back of the case but this still strikes me as a bit deceitful. Not that the absence of colour detracts from the film itself - personally I think it benefits from the monochrome imagery - but this should be made clearer on the packaging.

The film is based very loosely on a true story. The French resistance did indeed manage to prevent the Germans taking looted art out of the country towards the end of the war but although this was achieved by ingenious means a true-to-life re-enactment of this story would not have made for such an exciting film.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Train, 6 Sept. 2005
This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
One of the best films of resistance in Europe that it should go hand in hand with The Pianist, and Kanal. Some brilliant action sequences for it's time and some very tragic moments as war is full of it. The ending is where the film leaves it's message and the filming and scripting is beautifully suited for it. Overall an excellent film.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An artistic war movie, but still a war movie, 24 Aug. 2007
This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
This film is a remarkable achievement. It is really a genre busting classic because it combines both the excitement of a WW2 action film and the thoughtful insight of a European art house movie. Its premise is based fairly loosely on real events, but the spirit of the peice rings very true. It manages to have quite a French feel to it, which I like, and the lead character is perfectly played by Lancaster, which was a great bit of casting.

It is yet another of those war movies in which everyone speaks English, but I didn't feel it spoiled the experience at all, whereas in some films it does. This probably has to do with the fact that it carefully creates a Gallic aura in all other aspects of the film. The photography is very good indeed - all sharp and arty angles and seems even to gain something from being in black and white, as many good films do. Scofield's lofty Nazi officer in cahrge of the important operation, brings immense depth to the movie, and that's where the film becomes a thought piece as well. In that respect, Scofield's character was probably the most critical element in the film for it to achieve what it managed to achieve.

Of course it's not too deep, it just floats the subjects of cultural heritage and national pride to elevate the film above being a mere action movie, but it does make its point. It builds very nicely towards the inevitable showdown between Lancaster and Scofield, the real action that viewers have been waiting for, and it delivers well. The brief but powerful interplay between these two very different men is a delight, and there is a fair bit of irony evident in this, as it becomes apparent that although Lancaster is the righteous victor and Scofeild, the defeated imperialist art thief, Lancaster is merely an art blind patriot, and for all Scofield's German superiority and haughtiness, you really do feel he cherished these art treasures for what they were. An unusual addition then to the overworked WW2 movie genre and a very welcome one, one of the best WW2 movies made, in fact.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent movie, thoroughly enjoyable veiwing!, 11 Jun. 2004
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This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
For £5 this movie has to of been one of the best buys i ever made in terms of movies.
The film is set in the last years of WWII and follows a french patriot who is working for the german military as a train yard runner. a patriotic colonel in the german army decides to take paintings from the paris art museum and crate them up and send them to Germany via train. massive confusion occurs when the few french resistence fighters driving the train plan a series of sabotage attacks on the train right under the colonels nose. The film is highly interesting and in my opinion the fact that it is in black and white makes it even more enjoyable than it would be if it were in color. The film is tense nearly all the way through and a good film to sit down and watch. The end of the film is a highly tense and climatic part which i'm not going to spoil but i'll tell you this; if you like these types of films you won't be dissapointed at all. AT ALL! a very good buy and even if it were £15 i would have bought it, a great movie that can be watched time and time again and still have practically the same effect as it did when you first watched it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lancaster shines in this WWII drama, 16 Jun. 2014
By 
Mr Baz - See all my reviews
(#1 REVIEWER)    (No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
The term good old movie is banded around a lot, but in this case it's entirely justified. The Train doesn't sound like the most gripping film ever made, a simple story about the French resistance and their attempts to save a fine art collection from being looted by the Third Reich, in the last days of the war of France.

Evidently based on a factual book by author Rose Valland, the real story was more about logistics and paperwork rather than the drama we see here. Regardless, the screenplay is a good one and makes for compelling watching from start to finish.

Lancaster is perfectly cast as Paul Labiche, the resistance train driver who is selected to save the artwork. Burt slips into this role smoother than a well worn leather glove you've had for years, complete with the gritty look, and oil and grease on his face. It's the role he was made for and conveys so well.

Supporting cast is very strong too, Paul Scofield's stand out performance as Col. Franz von Waldheim (an art lover, but German Officer), who is assigned to ensure the artwork is safely removed to Germany. Scofield pays a magnificent part here, becoming more and more obsessed/desperate as the story unfolds. Both men excel in their casting roles.

Some good performances by Albert Rémy, Charles Millot, Jacques Marin too help strengthen an already solid movie.
John Frankenheimer directs and does so very well, but it's the performances of the two lead men which really wins though.
Shot entirely in black and white, the Train is both moody and atmospheric. The story makes for a better picture than you might expect, it's well executed and grabs your attention from start to finish.

Well worth a look, even if you are not a WWII film fan. This harks back to an era of just good story telling, and some fine acting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankenheimer's Best., 30 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
The perfect gift for all movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

All of the elements essential to a great film are here: an engrossing plot fully realised in a well-written script, a fine cast chosen for their acting abilities instead of their star power (although as it happened, Burt Lancaster had both), and exceptional direction by John Frankenheimer who knew exactly what he wanted to achieve and did it beautifully.

Frankenheimer's decision to shoot in black and white was dead-on correct, adding to the period authenticity. Paul Scofield as the German deviant art fixated Colonel and Burt Lancaster as La Biche, the somewhat cynical train engineer and leader of the local resistance cell, put in two of their greatest performances, and the gripping interplay between them under-girds the movie. The ending gives us one of the most coldly effective cutaways I've ever seen. And, just as a gift, the movie includes one of the most superbly shot train wrecks in movie history. Almost forgot to mention the wonderful exciting music score. Don't miss this one!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Train was an exciting journey., 4 Nov. 2007
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This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
This has to be one of the greatest war time films of all time.
This is just begging for a special edition.Burt Lancaster is allways so great in movies.
Theres so much in this film action,drama,suspense.
A brilliant sunday afternoon movie.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining., 6 Mar. 2006
This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
I first saw this film on TV many years ago and was recently delighted to see it again on DVD. It is a great WW 2 story and Burt Lancaster plays a great part as the central character trying to prevent the Germans transporting the Art treasures of France to Germany at the end of the war.Plenty of action ensure this is a war film that you will enjoy time and time again. Definetly one for the collection !!!!.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best historical action film, 7 Jan. 2012
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Train [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
This is an absolutely first rate action film, set in the waning days of Nazi Germany's occupation of France. The situation is an SS General, who happens to be fanatically interested in the "degenerate art" that the Nazis were burning at home. He decides to steal all of the Impressionist and Modernist art from the Jeu de Paume museum. On the French side, you have a group of tough railway engineers, led by Lancaster. While reluctant to risk lives for art, they decide to save the paintings when the SS General brutally executes one of the colleagues before their eyes. The rest of the film is a fabulously realistic duel between Lancaster and the General, between a clever lone wolf and a collapsing killing machine. It is utterly riveting.

I saw this film with my dad when it came out and have remembered it ever since, so I was a bit worried when I tried it again. Happily, it was one of those experiences where you see entirely new levels, yet still enjoy what you did at first. In the French version, the Germans speak German and the wonderful French actors apparently speak their parts themselves (there is a stunning Jeanne Moreau, and many others). There is a lot about the resistance as well.

Though based on a true story, I did some research. Apparently, the paintings were put into crates, but were blocked from transport by bureaucratic delays. So, the action is pure fabrication, which doesn't detract in the slightest from the film experience. In addition, under the original director, Penn, the film was going to be a much more arty thing with all sorts of musings about it. But Lancaster got him fired in favor of Frankenheimer and a new script.

Recommended with the greatest enthusiasm. This is hollywood at its 1960s best.
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