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



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.

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.”

production details
USA | United Artists – Ariane – Dear | 133 minutes | 1964

Director: John Frankenheimer
Script: Franklin Coen, Walter Bernstein, Frank Davis, Rose Valland, Albert Husson,

Burt Lancaster as Paul Labiche
Howard Vernon as Dietrich
Paul Scofield as von Waldheim
Gérard Buhr as Corporal
Jean-Pierre Zola as Octave
Richard Münch as General von Libitz
Jeanne Moreau as Christine
Suzanne Flon as Mademoiselle Villard
Michel Simon as Papa Boul
Wolfgang Preiss as Maj. Herren
Albert Rémy as Didont
Charles Millot as Pesquet
Jacques Marin as Jacques
Paul Bonifas as Spinet
Jean Bouchaud as Schmidt
Donald O’Brien as Schwartz
Arthur Brauss as Pilzer
Jean-Claude Bercq as Major
Louis Falavigna as Railroad Worker
Richard Bailey as Grote
Christian Fuin as Robert
Helmo Kindermann as Ordnance Officer
Roger Lumont as Engineer Officer
Christian Rémy as Tauber