As the Allied forces approach Paris in August 1944, German Colonel Von Waldheim is desperate to take all of France's greatest paintings to Germany. He manages to secure a train to transport the valuable art works even as the chaos of retreat descends upon them. The French resistance however wants to stop them from stealing their national treasures but have received orders from London that they are not to be destroyed. The station master, Labiche, is tasked with scheduling the train and making it all happen smoothly but he is also part of a dwindling group of resistance fighters tasked with preventing the theft. He and others stage an elaborate ruse to keep the train from ever leaving French territory.Written by
The repair depicted by on-the-spot casting of a "Babbitt bearing" for the sabotaged drive rod of Boule's locomotive, is an actual procedure. The bearing style was invented by Isaac Babbitt of Taunton, MA in 1839. The soft metal which comprises the bearing is itself known as babbitt, and for traditional railroad use is 89% tin, 7% antimony, and 4% copper. See more »
(at around 48 mins) When Labiche, Didont and Pesquet argue in the locomotive, Pesquet says "We will be killed if you don't call Maurice." In the next shot, Pesquet is facing the opposite direction (facing outside the window). See more »
Opening credits prologue: PARIS August 2-1944 1511th day of German occupation See more »
Whilst the official run time is 133 minutes, the BBFC website has two separate entries, one with a theatrical 'U' rated certificate in 1964 running at 141 minutes 31 seconds and the other entry with a theatrical 'A' rated certificate in 1959 running at 90 minutes 37 seconds. Though the second entry seems incorrect due to the erroneous date of certification being 21 October 1959 (the film was being made in 1963 and is copyrighted in 1964) and a much shorter run time, the BBFC reference numbering is in sequence with the later video rated entries so it is unknown if this 1959 entry is a much shorter cut of this film or this is an error in the BBFC records. It is also not known if the 142 minute entry is a longer cut of the film that has simply not been since it's UK theatrical release in 1964. See more »
Like everyone else who has posted here, I think this film is superb. Brilliant screenplay, excellent acting, exceptional directing, and so on and so forth. I think there is one little twist to the screenplay that deserves mention. Burt Lancaster has not one spoken line in the final 20 minutes of the movie. I can't recall ever seeing that done with a major character in a mainstream film. His actions ARE his words. In the final scene, we know exactly what he is thinking without him saying a word. A lovely subtle touch and the crowning moment in a truly great film.
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