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As the Allied forces approach Paris in August 1944, German Colonel Von Waldheim is desperate to take all of France's greatest paintings to Germany. He manages to secure a train to transport the valuable art works even as the chaos of retreat descends upon them. The French resistance however wants to stop them from stealing their national treasures but have received orders from London that they are not to be destroyed. The station master, Labiche, is tasked with scheduling the train and making it all happen smoothly but he is also part of a dwindling group of resistance fighters tasked with preventing the theft. He and others stage an elaborate ruse to keep the train from ever leaving French territory. Written by
The registry number for the art train (post-crash) is: 230B517. This denotes that it's a class 230B (please see trivia section), and is briefly visible on a plaque at time code: 1:04. See more »
(at around 35 mins) When Labiche starts to resolve the "problem" with switch 10, he bends down and reaches in with pliers in his hand. When he pulls out the obstruction (the German officer's pipe), there are no pliers in his hand. See more »
Well, hurry it up. We're working on a locomotive, not a pocketwatch.
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A Different Kind Of WWII Movie, And One Of The Best
This is one of my all-time favorite war movies, always rated in the top three since I first saw it years ago. I rate it so high because of four main things:
1 - Wonderful black-and-white photography; 2 - an interesting cast led by two great actors, Burt Lancaster and Paul Scofield; 3 - An intelligent, different kind of war story revolving around stolen works of great art; 4 - Just the right amount of action.
Not only the blacks-and-whites look good but the grays, too. The nighttime train shots with the white steam coming out is just spectacular. You can feel the grease and grime on these railroad men as the work on the train. The person best exemplifying that is the Frenchman Michel Simon who plays "Papa Boule," the engineer who begins the train trip and then is shot after being discovered sabotaging it. What a great face this man had! He, Lancaster and other grimy railroad men with soot all over their faces give this a real authentic feel. Most of the cast is either French or German but if you have a hard time understanding a few lines, you can put on the English subtitles if you are playing the DVD.
This is a pretty long film but it doesn't have many lulls, especially the train starts to roll. I have viewed this a number of times and have never been disappointed with it. Director John Frankenheimer gives some interesting commentary on this, too, so you might to check that out on the disc.
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