Jerry McKibbon is a tough, no nonsense reporter, mentoring special prosecutor John Conroy in routing out corrupt officials in the city, which may even include Conroy's own police detective father as a suspect.
Helen Ferguson, pregnant, penniless and dumped by her boyfriend Steve Morley, takes the identity of the pregnant Patrice Harkness, when she and her husband are killed in a train crash. The ... See full summary »
On a dark night of pelting rain, five men stage a well-planned train robbery and get away with a $10 millionr, nine-ton gold shipment. Dividing the massive haul into three concealed truck ... See full summary »
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 terrific formula film. It doesn't rise above, but it takes off beautifully.
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.
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