Secretary Joyce Willecombe grows suspicious of two men boarding her train and is referred to 'Tough Willy' Calhoun, head of the Union Station police. The all-seeing, no-nonsense Calhoun is initially skeptical, but the men (who escape) prove to be involved in a kidnap case. Calhoun calls in equally tough police Inspector Donnelly, but the ruthless kidnapper's precision planning stays one jump ahead of them. Most of the action centers around bustling Union Station. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A lost classic which should be rediscovered and hailed as the masterpiece that it is.
I suppose that every movie lover and every film critic has one film that they love which makes everyone else shrug in bewilderment. I remember Barry Norman once publishing a book about his 100 favourite movies, and no-one could fathom why a well-made but totally disposable entry like "Gregory's Girl" was on his list. Similarly, many years ago BBC2 ran a short film series in which famous actors and directors revealed and spoke about their favourite film. Everyone was taken aback when Martin Scorcese came up with "Duel In The Sun" as his choice! Well, for me, the oddity among my list of all-time favourites would have to be Union Station. Since the first time I caught this fantastic crime thriller on Channel 4 one rainy afternoon, I've considered it one of the finest films of its type that I've ever come across. Not only did the story engross me, but the film inspired me to become a lifelong fan of William Holden, and also made me develop a serious crush on the lovely Nancy Olson.
Railway police man William Calhoun (William Holden) is having a fairly routine day at work when he is approached by an apprehensive passenger named Joyce Willecombe (Nancy Olson), who believes that two travellers aboard her train may have been up to no good. It transpires that Joyce is the secretary to a rich man called Henry Murchison (Herbert Hayes), whose blind daughter, Lorna, has been kidnapped and held for ransom. The railway station where Calhoun works has been chosen as the location for the pay-off of the ransom. Calhoun and fellow cop Inspector Donnelly (the atypically-cast Barry Fitzgerald) race against time to find the kidnappers and bring them to heel.
Pacy, exciting, surprisingly violent and very well-acted, Union Station is 80 minutes of terrific entertainment. Sydney Boehm's script is filled with incident, and Rudolph Mate directs the proceedings with a sense of urgency and a real talent for building the suspense. Holden - fresh from his masterpiece Sunset Boulevard - is in fine form and Olson (also from Sunset Boulevard) is an ideal leading lady, who not only gets the hero involved in the action but also pressurises him into not just nailing the bad guys but rescuing the abducted blind girl too. Impressive performances are also to be found from Barry Fitzgerald as Holden's colleague, and (especially) Lyle Bettger as the kidnap mastermind, a snarling and exceptionally nasty villain for a film of this era. The climax, involving a frenzied shootout and a chase through underground tunnels, is truly heart-stopping. Union Station is a first-rate thriller.... if ever a film needed rediscovering, then this surely is it!
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