Train, The (United Artists 1965, Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield)

The Train

Set in 1944 in Occupied France, action-packed adventure The Train stars Burt Lancaster as Labiche, a railwayman embroiled in a Nazi plot to ship French art treasures back to Germany. Colonel von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) recognises the value of the modern French paintings (dismissed by the Nazis as “degenerate”) and persuades his bosses to give him the use of Labiche’s train before Paris is liberated by the Allied forces.

The museum authorities ask Labiche to stop the train but, although he is a member of the Resistance movement, he’s unwilling to risk the life of his men for the sake of art alone. But when an old engineer, his close friend Papa Boule (Michel Simon), is accused of trying to sabotage the train and is shot by the Germans, Labiche will stop at nothing to prevent the French art treasures leaving their native soil. He is forced by the fanatical Colonel to drive the train himself but the Resistance net swings into action, changing the names of the stations and making the Germans believe they are heading home when in fact they are on a round trip.

The Train

Coen and Davis’s effective and suspenseful screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. And despite Lancaster badly injuring his knee jumping from a train and certain scenes having to be re-shot, Variety praised Lancaster’s “active, acrobatic elán ” and declared the film as a “colourful, action-full, big-scale adventure opus.”

Cast: Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau, Michel Simon, Suzanne Flon, Wolfgang Preiss

Director: John Frankenheimer
Producer: Jules Bricken
Screenwriters: Franklin Coen, Frank Davis, Walter Bernstein, Albert Husson, from Le Front de l’Art by Rose Valland
Directors of Photography: Jean Tournier, Walter Wottiz
Composer: Maurice Jarre

USA / United Artists – Ariane – Dear / 140 minutes / 1965

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