The Great Train Robbery (2013)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Biography, Drama
7.6
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A two-part drama which portrays The Great Train Robbery of 8 August 1963, firstly from the point of view of the robbers and then from the point of view of the police who set out to identify and catch the robbers.

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2013  
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 DI Frank Williams (2 episodes, 2013)
...
 Charlie Wilson (2 episodes, 2013)
...
 Gordon Goody (2 episodes, 2013)
...
 Bruce Reynolds (2 episodes, 2013)
Nicholas Murchie ...
 Roger Cordrey (2 episodes, 2013)
...
 Roy James (2 episodes, 2013)
Del Synnott ...
 Brian Field (2 episodes, 2013)
Bethany Muir ...
 Franny Reynolds (2 episodes, 2013)
Eric Hulme ...
 Jack Mills (2 episodes, 2013)
...
 Buster Edwards (2 episodes, 2013)
...
 Ronnie Biggs (2 episodes, 2013)
...
 John Daly (2 episodes, 2013)
George Ward ...
 Nick Reynolds (2 episodes, 2013)
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Storyline

A two-part drama which portrays The Great Train Robbery of 8 August 1963, firstly from the point of view of the robbers and then from the point of view of the police who set out to identify and catch the robbers.

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Biography | Drama

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2013 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Der große Eisenbahnraub 1963  »

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(2 parts)

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Trivia

Ronald Biggs, one of the last surviving Great Train Robbers, died on 18 December 2013, the same day that this two-part series was first shown. See more »

Goofs

The getaway cars at the November 1962 London Airport robbery have "A" suffix registrations, not introduced until February 1963. See more »

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User Reviews

 
On and off the rails
9 January 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

At the time, the Great Train Robbery was the biggest theft in British criminal history and was as much a part of 1963 here as the Profumo Scandal and the emergence of the Beatles. With the fiftieth anniversary of significant events in that year being commemorated right left and centre (the making of the first Beatles album, the first Dr Who TV show, of course the Kennedy assassination), I guess this notorious occurrence was also too big to miss.

With a large cast consisting of some of the best of British male acting talent (female characters hardly get a look-in), painstakingly accurate set design not to mention the actual train itself, the component parts were all there and waiting to be assembled into place. The imaginative decision to break it into two films, the first part concerning the planning and execution of the crime itself and focusing on the criminal gangs which came together to do the misdeed, the second, the aftermath, concentrating on the police investigation run by Jim Broadbent's tough-as-old-boots D.I Tommy Butler, was, on paper, a good one and for the first half certainly successful.

In part one, we see the scheme being formulated by Luke Fisher's bespectacled (obviously marking him out as the brains) Bruce Reynolds the coordinator of the operation, including the recruitment of the necessary personnel, implementation of the crime and the plan on how to escape the law after the robbery. Pacily directed and well-acted by the whole group, the viewer is completely taken into the criminal world and despite myself, caught up in the anticipation and even excitement as they set about their dirty work. I must admit my distaste at the scene where they realise the enormity of what they've done and celebrate with abandon, even though I knew they didn't get away with it for long.

Which leads onto part two, which I felt was altogether less successful. The narrative changes tack and now follows the police investigation into the crime with Broadbent and his weary men one by one picking off the assembled pictures of the perpetrators on their incident-room notice board. Unfortunately at this point the director decides that Broadbent and his team are the UK equivalent of The Untouchables so that we get endless shots of Broadbent grimly gazing at the camera and when they walk, it's in De Palma-esque slow-motion. All the artifice that was stripped away in the impressive first 90 minutes is overloaded into the second one and while there's still drama in watching all the villains get their come-uppance, you completely lose the sense of authenticity built up thus far. The soundtrack was confusing too, quite why 50's Frank Sinatra songs proliferate, I can't tell and for some reason the great Spencer Davis Group song "I'm A Man", cut in 1966 gets played as the background to events from three years before. The use of Nina Simone songs, especially "Sinner Man" did work better but again, like the overall production, they only got this part half-right too.

I almost thought that the two parts must have been directed by two different directors but no, it was just poor execution of a good plan, sort of like how the robbers handled their getaway.


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