6.7/10
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Rome Express (1932)

A sinister character boards the Rome Express on the trail of a valuable Van Dyke painting, recently stolen from a Paris gallery. Much to his annoyance he finds the train populated with a ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Muriel Aked ...
Spinster
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Mrs. Maxted
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Poole
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Sam, Publicist
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Alistair McBane
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Harold Huth ...
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Mills
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Asta Marvelle
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Frank Vosper ...
M. Jolif
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Tony
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Storyline

A sinister character boards the Rome Express on the trail of a valuable Van Dyke painting, recently stolen from a Paris gallery. Much to his annoyance he finds the train populated with a motley assortment of passengers. including adulterous lovers, a very annoying golf fanatic, a French police chief and an American silent film star any one of whom could have the painting he desperately seeks.. Written by wxjuh

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Genres:

Thriller

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Release Date:

November 1932 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El rey de los condenados  »

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Sound Mix:

(British Acoustic)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Feature debut of Eliot Makeham. See more »

Quotes

Tom Bishop: Discretion is the better part of Wagons Lits.
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Connections

Featured in Shepperton Babylon (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A film I never heard of that was a genuine treat
17 July 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Rome Express is a Gaumont British production which can be seen as a prototype for future thrillers than would be set entirely on trains. In particular it makes one think of Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes which is not too surprising since both films have the same screenwriter, Sidney Gilliat (who would later be director of Green for Danger and the excellent State Secret).

Aside from the train setting, however, in which various passengers intermingle with one another, with crime and murder to be a part of the course of this trip, this film has, like the later Hitchcock film, a lightness in tone that adds to its pleasure. One seriously has to wonder, in fact, if the future Sir Alfred didn't see this film before he directed his own variation on it.

As directed by Walter Forde, Rome Express moves with the same speed as the express train on which the story is set, the main plot involving a stolen Van Dyke painting hidden in a briefcase and two partners of the thief, one of them very deadly, indeed, in search of the now frightened man who decided to abscond with the painting on his own.

The largely British cast is fine, including Joan Barry (a Hitchcock leading lady around this time in Rich and Strange) and, particularly effective, Donald Calthrop, whom Hitchcock buffs may recall as the blackmailer in Blackmail, Alfred's first talkie. In this film he's the man with the hidden Van Dyke.

Cedric Hardwicke also scores very well here as a smug, penny pinching millionaire forever castigating his cowering manservant for some minor misdeed. Esther Ralston, a very attractive silent film star whose talkie career would never reach the same heights as her silent one, is quite winning in the role of a movie star on board the train who becomes accidentally mixed up with the art thieves.

Saving the best for last is Conrad Veidt, in great form here, as the more sinister of the two art thieves searching for the passenger (Calthrop) who has the painting. Veidt brings an intelligence and polished flair to his performance. Ruthless as he is when he has a man cornered, he is also an elegant scoundrel who presents a smiling, affable facade to those around him.

Veidt is highly effective in his role, both attractive and deadly as a cobra. If anyone in this film exudes star presence it is definitely the German actor probably best remembered today for his performance as Major Strasser in Casablanca.

If you're into thrillers, particularly those set aboard trains, try seeking this film out. You should be more than satisfied.


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