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Night Train to Munich (1940)

Not Rated | | Thriller, War | 29 December 1940 (USA)
When Germany invades Czechoslovakia, the German and the British intelligence services try to capture Czech scientist Dr. Axel Bomasch (James Harcourt), inventor of a new type of armor-plating.

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

Gordon Wellesley (based on an original story by), Sidney Gilliat (screenplay) (as Sydney Gilliat) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Margaret Lockwood ... Anna Bomasch
Rex Harrison ... Dickie Randall a.k.a. Gus Bennett
Paul Henreid ... Karl Marsen (as Paul von Hernried)
Basil Radford ... Charters
Naunton Wayne ... Caldicott
James Harcourt James Harcourt ... Axel Bomasch
Felix Aylmer ... Dr. Fredericks
Wyndham Goldie Wyndham Goldie ... Dryton
Roland Culver ... Roberts
Eliot Makeham ... Schwab
Raymond Huntley ... Kampenfeldt
Austin Trevor ... Capt. Prada (as Austen Trevor)
Kenneth Kent Kenneth Kent ... Controller (as Keneth Kent)
C.V. France ... Admiral Hassinger
Frederick Valk Frederick Valk ... Gestapo Officer (as Fritz Valk)
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Storyline

When the Germans march into Prague, Czechoslovakia, armor-plating inventor Dr. Axel Bomasch (James Harcourt) flees to England. His daughter Anna (Margaret Lockwood) escapes from arrest to join him, but the Gestapo manages to kidnap them both back to Berlin. As war looms, British Secret Service Agent Gus Bennett (Sir Rex Harrison) follows disguised as a senior German Army officer. His ploy is the not unpleasant one of pretending to woo Anna to the German cause. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Laughs! Thrills! Excitement!

Genres:

Thriller | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

29 December 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Night Train See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Full Range Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The airplane shown taking off, depicting Anna's father (James Harcourt) leaving Prague's airport, is a 1938 Lockheed 14 Super Electra, registration G-AFGN. On August 11, 1939 it was on an Imperial Airways flight from London to Zurich when it developed engine trouble and caught fire. It landed in a field in France and all got out safely, but the plane was consumed by the fire. This is the same plane British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain used to fly back to the U.K. from his meeting with Adolf Hitler after signing the "Munich Agreement" in 1938. Thus, this shot is most likely newsreel footage from that event. See more »

Goofs

The wording of the British passport read out by Charters is incorrect as it is different from the American wording in three major ways.. Firstly, the passport holder is not referred to as him or her but as "The Bearer". Secondly, British passports uniquely in the world, not only request that those concerned assist the bearer to be allowed proceed without let or hindrance, but request and require it. Thirdly, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the time of issue is never scheduled by name. See more »

Quotes

Gus Bennett: [enters Anna's hotel room] My darling, you look as charming as ever. Those same sweet lips, like warm carnations. Those sweet mysterious eyes, darker and softer than the bluest dusk of August violets... as the poet has it, and I hope he was Aryan... No one under the bed, I trust ?
[picks up phone]
Gus Bennett: Bring me a bottle of Krug '28... That will be excellent.
Anna Bomasch: What's happening ?
Gus Bennett: Well you may have gathered that we were partners in a highly romantic interlude in Prague four years ago. By the way, did you ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Paul Henreid is listed as Paul von Hernried in the credits. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Where Eagles Dare (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Only Love Can Lead the Way
(uncredited)
Written by Harry M. Woods
Performed by Rex Harrison
See more »

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User Reviews

The Spy Who Went Into the Cold
9 June 2004 | by nk_gillenSee all my reviews

Carol Reed, a film craftsman of the highest order, directed this wartime spy-thriller. Though it may feel routine, there are individual scenes and performers who remain vivid: the egoism of Rex Harrison's British agent; the vulnerability of Margaret Lockwood's wartime refugee; the naked sensitivity of Paul Henreid's villain. All in all, an interesting romantic triangle. The story chronicles events leading up to September 3, 1939 - the day France and England declared war on Germany after Panzers and Stukas invaded Poland.

"Night Train" actually opens in '38, however, as the camera tracks into Hitler's mountain retreat over Berchtesgaden, as we witness the dictator ordering the Czech occupation. Hitler desires not only territory, but the talented scientists within - geniuses such as Axel Bomasch, an industrial wizard who just barely escapes the S.S. and flies safely to England, where he is safeguarded by a British Intelligence officer, code name "Gus Bennett" (Harrison). However, Bomasch's daughter, Anna (Ms. Lockwood), is caught and imprisoned in a Nazi concentration-camp where she befriends fellow inmate Karl Marsen (Henreid). They both successfully escape and sail a tramp steamer for England: Anna, to re-unite with her father; and Marsen, to make contact with those who share his real allegiance - to the Third Reich. With the help of an oculist (Felix Aylmer), planted in England years before by the Abwehr, Marsen abducts both Bomasch and Anna, who are transported to Berlin. Bennett, angry at his own lapse in security, volunteers to travel to Germany disguised as an officer of Hitler's High Command in order to retrieve the pair.

The film then accelerates into a series of tense confrontations between Bennett and those he hopes to dupe, in both Berlin and on a train to Munich. The action culminates in a skillfully directed chase scene climaxing on the Swiss border, where the term "cliff- hanger" takes on literal meaning. Along the way, there appear various secondary characters - the 'team' of Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, for example, are thrown in for their droll, underplaying of some cleverly written dialogue ("No copies of Punch?! Hmmm. Must have sold out."). But the real comic relief is provided by Irene Handl as a German stationmaster who, in one scene, brushes off the "gentlemen," Radford and Wayne, like so much confetti. Her scene-stealing marks the highest moment of levity in the film.

The one element in Carol Reed's storytelling that always distinguished him as a director was a quality he shared with Jean Renoir - the generous feeling he conveyed toward all of his characters. Human flaws and defects such as professional incompetence and blind allegiance are noted but tolerated. The rigid bureaucracy of a dictatorial government is deftly satirized in the character of a German civil servant (Raymond Huntley) who, when confronted with a forged document that escaped his notice, is asked by his Nazi superiors if he knows what this will mean for him. The bureaucrat politely replies, "Yes. It means I shall have to sack my secretary."

And in "Night Train's" final frame, we observe Henreid's Nazi, jilted in more ways than one; yet Reed frames him sorrowfully, as if he were a sort of Universal Everyloser. Reed's sympathy, again, extends to all. Such unusual compassion on the part of a director is what finally separates "Night Train" from other propaganda films of the early Forties.


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