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
A sequence showing Paul Scofield's character entering a small church was originally in the film but has long since disappeared. See more »
When the German officer throws his pipe down, it lands on a chair, spilling ashes onto the chair seat. The next time we see the pipe, there are no ashes. See more »
I don't want your thanks. If they'd caught me helping you, I would have been shot.
I know. I'm sorry.
You think you can just run in and out of here and make trouble? I run a hotel, not a madhouse. Who's going to pay for the door? Who's going to pay for the lock? Do you think money grows on trees?
There's a war...
You talk about the war. I talk about what it costs!
I'll be leaving in a few hours. You can go back to your good customers.
They pay. That's what I'm in business for.
[...] 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 »
A Different Kind Of WWII Movie, And One Of The Best
This is one of my all-time favorite war movies, always rated in the top three since I first saw it years ago. I rate it so high because of four main things:
1 - Wonderful black-and-white photography; 2 - an interesting cast led by two great actors, Burt Lancaster and Paul Scofield; 3 - An intelligent, different kind of war story revolving around stolen works of great art; 4 - Just the right amount of action.
Not only the blacks-and-whites look good but the grays, too. The nighttime train shots with the white steam coming out is just spectacular. You can feel the grease and grime on these railroad men as the work on the train. The person best exemplifying that is the Frenchman Michel Simon who plays "Papa Boule," the engineer who begins the train trip and then is shot after being discovered sabotaging it. What a great face this man had! He, Lancaster and other grimy railroad men with soot all over their faces give this a real authentic feel. Most of the cast is either French or German but if you have a hard time understanding a few lines, you can put on the English subtitles if you are playing the DVD.
This is a pretty long film but it doesn't have many lulls, especially the train starts to roll. I have viewed this a number of times and have never been disappointed with it. Director John Frankenheimer gives some interesting commentary on this, too, so you might to check that out on the disc.
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