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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The people you have to deal with are lice. They never keep their word to anyone about anything; they won't to you.", 28 May 2011
This review is from: Union Station [DVD] [1950] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Union Station is a rather terrific police procedural that kicks off with one huge coincidence - the armed criminals Nancy Olsen spots on an train to Chicago just happen to have kidnapped her rich employer's blind daughter - and keeps her around for rather longer than the plot mechanics strictly need to provide potential romantic interest for William Holden's all business Union Station cop, but when it works this well, why complain? There's a typical fascination with the business of policing, be it Holden going on his rounds of pickpockets, pimps and conmen or an intricate surveillance operation, but there's also a streak of real nastiness to Lyle Bettger's very, very bad man, who'll not only kill anyone who gets in his way and not care who the stray bullets hit but will even steal your last sandwich. Not that the cops are that much better, getting a quick confession out of one of the gang by nearly throwing him under an oncoming train. The presence of Barry Fitzgerald's soft spoken older cop doing good cop to Holden's bad cop implies that it's all bluff, but the cops of the day weren't always THAT particular when it came to human rights.

The film does miss a few tricks: while it tries to build up some suspense as to whether the victim is even alive or not, there's never much doubt on that one and one promising moment where Bettger's hiding place in the station turns out to be only a few feet away from the police headquarters offers the tantalising possibility that he might be smart enough to be watching them while they think they're watching out for him - but unfortunately it's just a coincidence that's made little of. But so much does work that again it's hard to complain, be it a chase leading to a stampede in a stockyard or the obligatory chase through darkened tunnels, the script and execution always better than they need to be and raising it above the run of the mill even if it never quite makes it to classic. Tightly directed by Rudolph Maté with a good feeling for real locations that are used to great effect and underplayed performances that help add a layer of semi-realism, it's a very satisfying little stopover indeed.

No extras on Olive's Region 1 NTSC DVD but a more than acceptable black and white transfer.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Trevor Willsmer
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Location: London, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 43