Ryan, an American POW, leads his fellow prisoners on a dangerous escape from the Germans in Italy. Having seemingly made errors of judgment, Ryan has to win the support of the mainly British soldiers he is commanding.Written by
The most daring escape ever conceived. It begins at Pescara. It spreads into high adventure as they highjack their own prison train. It shoots past Rome... Florence... Bologna... It hightails into the Majola Pass with Messerschitts in hot pursuit... and makes a final frenzied lunge for Switzerland- and freedom! See more »
The film credits and all promotion publicity still say "A Cinemascope Picture", and Alfred Newman's "extended" 20th Century-Fox fanfare is still heard on the soundtrack as the picture begins, but most of the film was actually shot in Panavision, at Frank Sinatra's insistence. See more »
When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'U' rating. All cuts were waived in 1988 when the film was granted a 'PG' certificate for home video. See more »
Sadly, none of Frank Sinatra's subsequent films achieved the same critical and commercial success as this one. In fact they all proved to be a mixed bag, to put it as politely as possible and have dated dreadfully. On a personal level this would mark a turning point for him as during filming he was introduced to Mia Farrow! Directed by Mark Robson and adapted from the novel by former POW David Westheimer this is a rattling good yarn with an excellent cast including Trevor Howard and Edward Mulhare. In fact it is Mulhare as Father Constanzo who provides some of its most entertaining moments masquerading as an officer of the Wehrmacht. In terms of acting technique Sinatra and Howard are as different as chalk and cheese but equally effective and both possessing that 'something extra'. Adolfo Celi's Italian officer is a clown of course whilst the German officer of Wolfgang Preiss is of course anything but! After mainly appearing in her native Italy in sword and sandal movies Raffaela Carra makes her international debut but somehow fails to ignite. The railway sequences are brilliantly handled and the ending really packs a punch. Great score by Jerry Goldsmith whilst behind the camera is veteran William H. Daniels, favoured cinematographer of Greta Garbo! Apparently Sinatra insisted on the ending being changed so as to preclude any chance of a sequel. In retrospect this might not have been one of his wiser decisions. As is well documented Sinatra was obliged to appear many times for questioning regarding his alleged Mafia connections. During one of these sessions he was asked: 'Was it you or a double running behind the train at the end of 'Von Ryan's Express?' You really couldn't make it up!
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