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The Paris Express (1952)

The Man Who Watched Trains Go By (original title)
Approved | | Crime , Drama | 5 June 1953 (USA)
A Dutch company's owner bankrupts his own company, burns the incriminating ledgers and plans to run to Paris with the company payroll but he is caught in the act by his accountant who challenges his actions, leading to a reversal of roles.


Harold French


Georges Simenon (novel), Harold French (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Claude Rains ... Kees Popinga
Märta Torén ... Michele Rozier
Marius Goring ... Lucas
Herbert Lom ... Julius de Koster, Jr.
Anouk Aimée ... Jeanne, The Prostitute (as Anouk)
Felix Aylmer ... Mr. Merkemans
Ferdy Mayne ... Louis
MacDonald Parke MacDonald Parke ... Chicago Businessman
Lucie Mannheim ... Maria Popinga
Eric Pohlmann ... Goin
Gibb McLaughlin ... Julius de Koster, Sr
Michael Nightingale Michael Nightingale ... Popinga's Clerk
Robin Alalouf Robin Alalouf ... Karl Popinga
Joan St. Clair Joan St. Clair ... Frida Popinga
Michael Alain Michael Alain ... Dutch Train Conductor


Meek head clerk Kees Popinga realises at the same time as the police that owner De Koster has stripped his Dutch company clean because of his infatuation with a Parisian girl, Michelle. After a confrontation between the two men, De Koster ends up dead and Popinga makes off to Paris with the remaining money. There he contacts Michelle, with the police in close pursuit. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Non-Stop Suspense Thriller


Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 June 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Paris Express See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Initially actor Glenn Ford tried to produce this in 1950 with Hildegard Knef in the female lead. See more »

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User Reviews

an intriguing 1952 crime drama
3 June 2017 | by calvinnmeSee all my reviews

Filmed in Europe, the story is about a meek little clerk working for a respectable Dutch company who, by happenstance, finds himself with a suitcase full of stolen funds on a train to Paris.

He abandons his wife and children (the latter laughing at him behind his conservative, respectable back) to indulge in a life of excitement and adventure such as he had never dared dream. Yet, beneath it all, once he gets to Paris, he is still a mouse in many ways ready to be laughed at and exploited by those of the underworld that he encounters. But, as these people will also find out, the mouse can turn.

The clerk who goes on a spree is played by Claude Rains in, shockingly, one of only six motion pictures in which he appeared during the '50s. A woman of questionable morals that he meets and with whom he becomes obsessed is played by Marta Toren, a dark haired beauty whose appearance always reminded me of the gorgeous Alida (The Third Man) Valli.

Also in the cast are Marius Goring as a police inspector who wants to catch up with Rains before he really gets himself into even more serious trouble, and Herbert Lom, as his employer of the company for whom the clerk has been the perfect accountant for 18 years. All four actors give solid interpretations of their roles. Watching Rains and Lom together made me think of a former Phantom of the Opera working with a future one.

But it's Rains who is the primary source of interest in this drama, and it's his performance that brings many of the small pleasures to be found in this film which, at times, is also noteworthy for its lovely Technicolor. Rains plays a man who, by circumstances, stumbles into crime after a life of total boring respectability, and there are unsettling scenes in which an inner demon suddenly springs upon the face of an otherwise docile little man. There's a wickedness, suppressed for years, that bubbles to the surface, only to suddenly disappear again.

The change in character might be a little too sudden for complete conviction, at times, but it's such a pleasure to watch a seasoned professional like Rains at work here that I'm ready to forgive this little film for its weaknesses.

In the final analysis, The Man Who Watched Trains Go By (the title is explained by the film's opening scene, which shows Rains on his bicycle day dreaming about the exotic destinations of a train passing by him) is a minor drama. However, it is distinguished by the strong work of its cast and, in particular, the performance of the silken haired, elegant Claude Rains.

One of the great character actors of the studio system days, Rains' best work was behind him after leaving Warner Brothers in 1947. Here, however, he is given an opportunity to bring his subtle art to the screen once again in this independently produced European production.

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