Six people travel in a railroad sleeping car from Marseilles to Paris. Upon their arrival, a woman is found dead in one of the berths. The police investigate the other five passengers, ...
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In occupied France during the WWII, a German officer is murdered. The collaborationist Vichy government decides to pin the murder on six petty criminals. Loyal judges are called in to convict them as quickly as possible.
Anton Ludvik, aka Gerard, is vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Czechoslovakia. He realizes he is watched and followed. One day, he is arrested and put into jail, in solitary confinement. ... See full summary »
Reciprocal consolation. The background of two middle-aged people (Michel and Lydia) is gradually unfolded. Michel's wife is incurably ill. They had agreed that she would take her life on ... See full summary »
In Uruguay in the early 1970s, an official of the US Agency for International Development (a group used as a front for training foreign police in counterinsurgency methods) is kidnapped by ... See full summary »
An unknown Polish writer can't publish his novels, so his ex-wife decides to help him and get some of the profit for herself. She finally finds a publisher, but there's a strange single condition that could cost the writer his life.
French rocker Johnny Hallyday stars as a professional thief just released from jail. He returns to stealing to support his family. After several successful thefts, he decides to include his under-aged kid into the "family business".
1961. Luxemburger Thomas Vlassenroot deserted the French Foreign Legion during the Algiers Putsch. His lieutenant, Fraser, initiated the desertion for the two of them, Fraser believing he ... See full summary »
Six people travel in a railroad sleeping car from Marseilles to Paris. Upon their arrival, a woman is found dead in one of the berths. The police investigate the other five passengers, suspecting that one of them committed the homicide, but the suspects are killed one by one. The last two must solve the case themselves before they become the next victims.Written by
An exciting and ingenious French film noir by Costa-Gavras
This film, the original French title of which is COMPARTIMENT TUEURS, is known in English as THE SLEEPING CAR MURDER. I don't believe it has ever been available with English subtitles on DVD or video. I obtained a poor DVD copy of an off the air tape, which was dubbed into English. Despite the poor quality of my copy, it was well worth viewing. The film is directed and scripted by the famous Costa-Gavras, but is one of his least known films, because of the lack of distribution. It goes at a cracking pace and has a splendid cast. Probably the best job of acting is done by Michel Piccoli as a hopeless, creepy lech who is on the edge of madness and can't make it with women despite his uncontrollable lusts and interior rants of frustration, which we hear as voice-overs. Tthe film is filled with other well known actors. Yves Montand plays a world-weary Paris police inspector, Simone Signoret plays an aging woman who has fallen hopelessly in love with a mysterious young man played by Jean-Louis Trintignant. The scene where Montand interviews Signoret (the two in real life were a well known couple, as most people are aware) is amusing, because they struggle to control their giggles. Catherine Allégret plays a young girl just travelling to Paris for the first time in a sleeping car with five other people, two of whom are Signoret and Piccoli. They are on an overnight train journey from Marseilles (although the story starts at Avignon) to Paris. Upon arrival, a glamorous woman in the compartment is discovered to have been strangled to death. The police set about trying to find the killer and start by attempting to round up all the people who had spent the night in the sleeping car. But then, one by one, before the police can get to them, the people in the sleeping car are brutally killed by the same person, presumably to get rid of witnesses to the strangling of the woman in the sleeping car. However, the story has a lot more surprises than that. The film is based upon a novel by the very clever writer Sébastian Japrisot, who is famous for A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT (2004) starring the Elf, Audrey Tautou, and THE CHILDREN OF THE MARSHLAND (1999, see my forthcoming review). This was the first feature film directed by Costa-Gavras, who was later to shake the world with his powerful political dramas such as Z, STATE OF SIEGE, MISSING, and MUSIC BOX. He is still with us, aged 81, and directed the film CAPITAL starring Gabriel Byrne and Philippe Duclos (one of my favourite actors) as recently as 2012, when he was 79. One curiosity of the casting is that Claude Berri appears as a porter in the film, though uncredited. It was in this same year that he produced his first short film, LE POULET. He had already been acting for twelve years. This film has many twists and turns and an extraordinarily ingenious plot. I will not spoil things by even hinting at an explanation of it. Costa-Gavras directs with verve and intensity, and he achieves a spectacular success with the complicated filming of a sequence where a speeding car is being chased by a gang of motorcycles. It is no easy thing to keep track of half a dozen speeding vehicles of different sizes streaking across the streets of Paris at night, and make it look convincing. The cinematography by Jean Tournier is a tour de force, and the editing by Christian Gaudin enables the director to achieve his sense of an insoluble mystery hurtling over a cliff into the unknown at ever-increasing speed, with Yves Montand, who is heavy-lidded and has a cold, streaking after it, determined to find out whodunit if it is the last thing he does (I mean, the last thing he does before going to sleep, as he so laid back that one often does not know whether he is thinking or napping). The spider's web of complexity of this film's plot and the explosive speed at which it travels creates what was to be the trademark Costa-Gavras sense of danger and excitement from this, his very first film. If you can find it and manage to see it, you certainly won't regret it. What a way to start his career as a director!
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