Among Christian-Jaque huge filmography there is an appreciable amount of works where the director pays a tribute to great men :"La Symphonie Fantastique" (Hector Berlioz),"D'Homme à Hommes " (the Red Cross)"Destinées" (3rd sketch:Lysistrata invents "make love not war" years B.C.) "Si Tous Les Gars Du Monde" (international solidarity).His last work was a documentary about his peer Marcel Carné (Carné ,L'Homme à la Caméra).
"Les pirates Du rail" is his first (lines warn the audience) attempt in that direction,and if it's not always successful,blame it on a desultory script.At the time ,writer Hergé did a much better job about China in his comic strip "Tintin:The Blue Lotus" .One should add he was helped by a Chinese student who knew what he was talking about.
The story revolves around the building of a railroad track across China,this country where "they kill our priests and burn down our missions "(Simone Renant's words).Charles Vanel portrays the big boss ,who would resist till death ,if those "trainjackers " tried to destroy this way to civilization.
There are good sequences: the train coming into the station,full of dead bodies;Suzy Prim becoming mad;Simone Renant entering the governor's office and realizing he is dead..
But there is drivel too: how could you believe that Erich Von Stroheim,made up as an Asiatic ,studied at West Point and wants to take over the dead governor's duties?
It's a fairly good adventures movie,but do not expect too much.
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