Union Station (1950)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  1951 (Chile)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,560 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 21 critic

A sharp-eyed woman spots a man with a gun on a train and her alert to the railroad police lead to the kidnapping of a blind heiress by a ruthless thug.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Inspector Donnelly
Joe Beacom
Marge Wrighter
Allene Roberts ...
Lorna Murchison
Herbert Heyes ...
Henry L. Murchison
Don Dunning ...
Gus Hadder
Fred Graff ...
Vince Marley
James Seay ...
Detective Eddie Shattuck
Detective Gottschalk (as Parley E. Baer)
Ralph Sanford ...
Detective Fay
Richard Karlan ...
Detective George Stein
Bigelow Sayre ...
Detective Ross
Charles Dayton ...
Howard Kettner


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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

1951 (Chile)  »

Also Known As:

Manhattan Madness  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 7, 1952 with William Holden reprising his film role. See more »


When Joyce and Calhoun are having their conversation in the café, the amount of drink in her glass changes between shots. See more »


Inspector Donnelly: The people you have to deal with are lice. They never keep their word to anyone about anything; they won't to you.
See more »


Featured in Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

A terrific formula film. It doesn't rise above, but it takes off beautifully.
5 January 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Union Station (1950)

I saw "Sunset Blvd" right after seeing this one, and it really is pretty cool that the two leads here were in such different films. And with such ease. William Holden is the key actor in both cases--in the sense of screen time, of course, but also screen presence. But Nancy Olson as a kind of sweet stereotype is right on. Good stuff to build a movie around.

Or the other way around. Certainly in both cases there is a core concept that the actors fit into. "Union Station" has, by way of its title right off the bat, a clean focus. Holden plays William Calhoun, head of security for a fairly large train station in an unnamed town. The crime almost doesn't matter--it's a kidnapping with ransom--because we never quite feel for the victims (hostage and hostage's family) so much as feel the investigation happen. And key there is an odd and believable clash (romantic clash) between Calhoun, who has to do his job, and Olson's character, who is a typical person who wants to do good but doesn't understand the cool machinations of police work.

The first half of the movie is more interesting for its turns of plot. It leads us through the various stages of the discovering the crime and the nature of its extent without pushing. It's quite a nice insider look at the logic of it. Then the second half turns to more action--chasing and drama pure and simple, with some of the best low light shooting you can ask for.

This is the era when studios are moving away from shooting on lots to finding locations to work in, and some of the scenes are fabulous. The stock yard chase toward the beginning is fabulous, and all the ventilation tunnel scenes at the end equally so. The station itself, which takes up the bulk of the movie, is interesting and nicely contained. This is a movie you can simply "watch" for its visual flow, and the sites. In fact, I did this twice, almost by accident, because I was tired in the first round and wanted to see what I missed. In terms of plot, nothing much shows up the second time around, but the editing and photography are really so fine you can watch it all twice no problem.

Back to "Sunset Blvd." then--there is on some level no comparison between the two, as movies, even if there are lots of overlaps in time and cast. It's not just that Billy Wilder is a far more inventive and interesting director than Rudolph Mate, but the intentions were far bigger. "Union Station" is a formula picture. It's not even a film noir, but an action drama with low key light and vigorous photography. It's worth noticing that Mate is a photographer, and was director of photography for some seriously wonderful movies. And he has a handful of great films to his resume, too. So he attacked what must have been an obvious boilerplate movie and made it really really good. Check it out.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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DVD RELEASE!!! for 2010!!! lebiglebowski
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