Von Ryan's Express (1965)

Unrated  |   |  Action, Adventure, War  |  23 June 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 9,623 users  
Reviews: 67 user | 40 critic

An American POW leads a group of mainly British prisoners to escape from the Germans in WWII.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Col. Joseph L. Ryan
Major Eric Fincham
Raffaella Carrà ...
Gabriella (as Raffaella Carra)
Sgt. Bostick
Capt. Oriani
Major Von Klemment
Private Ames
John Van Dreelen ...
Col. Gortz (as John van Dreelen)
Italian Train Engineer
Richard Bakalyan ...
Corporal Giannini
Captain Stein
Michael St. Clair ...
Sgt. Dunbar


Ryan, an American POW, leads his fellow prisoners on a dangerous escape from the Germans in Italy. Having seemingly made errors of judgment, Ryan has to win the support of the mainly British soldiers he is commanding. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

escape | italy | colonel | running | prison | See All (67) »


Why did 600 Allied prisoners hate the man they called Von Ryan more than they hated Hitler? See more »


Action | Adventure | War


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

23 June 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El expreso de Von Ryan  »

Box Office


$5,760,000 (estimated)


ESP 29,721,662 (Spain)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)| (DVD release)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mia Farrow was introduced to Frank Sinatra when she visited her friend John Leyton on the set. Farrow had co-starred with Leyton earlier that year when the actress made her screen debut in another British military drama, "Guns at Batasi." She and Sinatra later married. See more »


After the uniforms of the POWs are burned, new clothes are issued to them. All prisoners appear to get the exact same uniform they had before, specifically, Maj Fincham has the same style shirt as before - wearing it with at least 2 buttons undone. Others around him are wearing different style shirts. Replacement uniforms would all have come from the same source, possibly even Great Britain. See more »


Colonel Joseph L. Ryan: [to Orde, who is guarding Von Klemment] Lieutenant, if he wiggles, put a hole in him.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film credits and all promotion publicity still say "A Cinemascope Picture", and Alfred Newman's "extended" 20th Century-Fox fanfare is still heard on the soundtrack as the picture begins, but most of the film was actually shot in Panavision, at Frank Sinatra's insistence. See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Diabolik (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A first-class as well as entertaining WWII story of escape from a prisoner-of-war concentration camp aboard a train
15 February 2014 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

Awesome warlike movie with memorable images and outstanding acting by well-known faces . This is a splendid film about a daring breakout from an Italian concentration camp with all star cast and magnificently realized by Mark Robson . The opening prologue states: "Italy , August 1943. With the Allies poised to strike, the Germans seized control of Italy. So the war-weary Italian nation fought on, a prisoner of the German armies¨ . There appears Ryan, an American POW Colonel (Frank Sinatra , his leather jacket was later worn by Bob Crane in Hogan's Heroes and was later worn by Greg Kinnear in Auto Focus) and a British military (Trevor Howard who was second choice for Major Fincham after Peter Finch turned it down and Jack Hawkins was possible for this part) is the officer in charge until Ryan takes over the escape plan . Ryan leads his fellow prisoners as foreign soldiers (James Brolin , John Leyton , Edward Mulhare) as Italian local military (Sergio Fantoni , Adolfo Celi and Vito Scotti as Train Engineer) on a perilous getaway from the Germans (led by Wolfgang Preiss as Major Von Klemment) in Italy . Having seemingly made errors of judgement, Ryan has to get the support of the mainly British soldiers he is commanding . As they aboard a German train to neutral Switzerland .

This great action tale contains thrills, intrigue, tension, excitement galore, entertainment and lots of fun . Suspenseful WWII epic packs exceptional plethora of prestigious actors incarnating the motley group of POWs , giving good acting and support , as a sensational Frank Sinatra whose character , Colonel Ryan, remains today as attractive iconography ; Edward Mulhare as an army priest posing as a Nazi officer , Brad Dexter as roguish Sgt. Bostick ,Sergio Fantoni as Capt. Oriani , a very young Raffaela Carra and Michael Goodliffe, who was an actual Prisoner of War during WWII , being captured at Dunkirk and spent the next five years in a German POW camp . Excellent production design and art direction with evocative scenarios by Walter Scott . Rousing and lively soundtrack , nowadays a classic score, by Jerry Goldsmith . Colorful cinematography by William H Daniels , Greta Garbo's usual cameraman .

The motion picture lavishly produced by Saul David was well realized by Mark Robson. In the early 40s Robson was much involved with the low-budget terror unit in charge of producer Val Lewton , for whom made ¨Seventh victim¨, ¨The ghost ship¨, and ¨Island of the dead¨. In the late 1940s Robson joined Stanley Kramer's independent company and directed his biggest commercial hit to date with ¨The champion¨. Years later Robson made another good film about corruption in boxing world titled ¨The harder they fall¨ with Humphrey Bogart. In the late 1960s, his work did decline . His last movie was a jinx one titled ¨Avalancha express¨. Robson and his main star, Robert Shaw, died suddenly from heart attacks. And of course , ¨Von Ryan Express¨ was one of his best films . A top-notch cast , spectacular images , tense images and noisy action help make this one a superior effort of its kind . Well worth seeing , this is the ordinary War movie that Hollywood does so well . This one is certainly one of the best movies ever made about the WWII escapes . Rating : 7 . Two thumbs up , essential and indispensable watching for WWII lovers , a real must see.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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