Customer Review

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You need twenty-five years before you can pick up a pension...and you won't make it", 23 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Union Station [DVD] [1950] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Union Station is one of those infrequent but cherishable low-budget 'B' movie thrillers where everything - simple story, decent script, terrific station location shooting, restless and inventive camera work, director with a fine eye for detail (Rudolph Mate), above par acting - comes together in one superior 75 minute package, and it must have been turned out in no time at all for c. $50,000, I should imagine. This R1 release from Olive Films has good sound and a clear picture. No extras.

The story concerns the kidnap by a gang of ex-cons of the blind daughter of a rich businessman and the efforts of the railway and city police to catch them. The film jumps out of its blocks from the first frame and keeps up an escalating tension with never a longueur all the way to the denouement. The tone is hard-boiled, and a couple of the scenes shocked me rigid (well, semi-rigid) with their brutality. Quite why the Hays Code censors swooned away at the sight of a bra strap or a married couple in a double bed (and no hint of canoodling) when (as here) they merrily waved through suspects being beaten up and threatened with a chucking in front of a speeding locomotive is a mystery to me. Suggestions on a postcard, please, to Humpty Dumpty, Wallsend. 2nd class will do.

Characterisation is sharp and plausible and has more touches of complexity than it has any claim to in the short running time: William Holden's hard cop who yet recognizes his place in society's scheme and Barry Fitzgerald's equally hard cop who's changed a little with maturity. Nancy Olson's wide-eyed secretary who reveals a hint of steel, Jan Sterling's gangster's moll, gullible yet not hopelessly vicious. Lyle Bettger's criminal, on the other hand, is corrupted to the core, a memorable villain.

The station locations are brilliantly used. The exterior and underground scenes and some interiors were shot at Union Station in Los Angeles; the elevated railway scenes in Chicago. Rudolph Mate's restless camera swings along the platforms, prowls the concourse, delves deep into the bowels of the station power plant and tunnels, and in an extraordinary sequence swoops from a walkway down onto a cattle market below. His handling of the extras who throng the station is exemplary, and his eye for detail superb - we peer with the camera through peep-holes in the walls and we see con men, kissing couples, pickpockets, would-be lotharios - the whole of life is before us. Finally, the actors persuade us of the truth of their story. The tough humanity of a fresh-faced William Holden in his overcoat and trilby, the gnome-like Fitzgerald keeping just this side of caricature. Jan Sterling in her cameo collapses dramatically in the gutter with a bullet in the guts and flails feebly yet persistently at the speeding wheels of Bettger's getaway car as it careers down the rain-sodden street, taking her dreams with it.

Just a great little picture that has to be seen!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Sep 2010 12:21:10 BDT
HI HUMPTY DUMPTY,
I have now ordered a copy of "UNION STATION". Thankyou for the suggestion.
As always you write great reviews. Thankyou also for your kind comments about
my reviews,much appreciated. I have also left a thankyou comment under your previous
film review,as well as a comment under my own review for "BELLE STARR".
Regards,Bill[W.J.WRIGHT].

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Sep 2010 20:34:38 BDT
Thank you for your kind comment, too, Bill. I don't think you'll be disappointed with Union Station.

As and when I watch this type of more unusual film or hear of one being released I'll mention it to you. In the meantime, I expect you know MovieMail, but just in case not, you can sign up at www.moviemail-online.co.uk to receive their free monthly magazine which I find a good place to keep up with new releases. Eg the October one has a short review of Berlin Express (out on 20/9), another of Richard Fleischer's Compulsion (also out on 20/9).

Oh and finally, again just in case you haven't seen it, I can recommend Dodsworth from William Wyler (1936). I think it's only availablke as R1. My father can recall travelling from Streatham in S. London to Croydon every day for I think a week on a tram to school in 1936 and the Croydon stop was right opposite a cinema. He remembers seeing the posters for Dodsworth outside the cinema and something about them (perhaps the design or because they were particularly colourful) made the film stick in his mind.

Cheers - HD

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Oct 2010 08:57:03 BDT
HI HUMPTY DUMPTY,
Really just an e-mail to say thankyou for the web site[www.ioffer.com/i/].
This really is a "treasure trove" of old movies,Film Noirs,Westerns,Adventures,etc.
With a vast majority having a picture/sound quality of 9/10 and even 10/10.
I have seen so many oldies[many i had heard of and many i had not heard of].
I have indeed ordered a few of these oldie classics on dvds. I also got in touch with
someone in America who has on dvd the 1957 "B" movie classic "HOT ROD RUMBLE",
another film i had been after[as i know of it from its wonderful colourful poster art work].
So thankyou for those web site details-it really is a "treasure trove" of classic old movies.
Which i am gradually going through. Regards,Bill.

Posted on 6 Jul 2011 16:34:53 BDT
Steve G says:
Humpty, fantastic review.

I taped and watched Union Station off Sky Movies Gold years and years ago. I remembered it out of the blue last year but a search around turned up nothing, but another search recently turned up this listing. Delighted to see that I can get it on DVD now, it's a wonderful little B-movie and films as good as this should never be allowed to disappear. Great review, I think you covered everything.

You're wrong about Retroactive though ;)

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Oct 2011 14:56:03 BDT
Thank you, Steve, and many apologies for having taken 3 months to do so. Thing is, Steve, I wanted to but my accountant had forbidden me to move a muscle until the start of the new, er, tax year otherwise with my super-high Amazon review earnings I'd have been in the 99p in the £ tax bracket. Yes, it's a damn good film and watching it made up for the 90 mins spent watching that twaddling piffle known as Retroactive. :-)
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