This is one of my earliest TV memories. There were a lot of semi documentary TV shows on German television in the sixties. Most of them about the Nazi time but this was about the famous English Train Robbery. I have seen it many times since then and it never fails to amaze me. First there is this haunting music by Heinz Funk then the off voice that tells us about the gentlemen in a very matter-of-fact way always in balance between being impressed with and making fun of the "gentlemen". There is no tone of morality but also not (really) any hero worshipping.
Actually, there is not very much happening. No way a producer would go away with it these days. Most of it is about the preparation of the coup. So we see "the major", Horst Tappert - very good here, and I really hate him in his famous later role as Derrick - buying pans and other house hold stuff. Then there is the robbery and later we see them hiding in a farm house. There are some tensions and it is not quite clear what exactly the role of the other strong character Guenther Neutze (one of my all time favorites) is, but it is a pure joy to just listening to these two guys arguing. Neutze had one of the great voices of the century. He really had this natural authority and the way he had to play second fiddle to Tappert makes the whole thing work.
But the entire cast is fantastic. Karl-Heinz Hess was never better, Lowitz certainly was, but he had the gift of adding a touch of dignity and irony to every film he was in. And Kai Fischer playing the German was beautiful and very unhappy to get involved.
What fascinated me most as a kid was at the end when the off voice said This was the story of the robbery and the credits started to roll in and then he came back saying, Pardon that was the story as of... And then the story continues, telling how some of the gang members were rescued from prison etc. Very, very effective.
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