7.0/10
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56 user 25 critic

The Great Train Robbery (1978)

The First Great Train Robbery (original title)
In Victorian England, a master criminal makes elaborate plans to steal a shipment of gold from a moving train.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay by), (based on his novel)

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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Pierce
... Agar
... Miriam
Alan Webb ... Trent
... Fowler
... Sharp
... Burgess
Wayne Sleep ... Clean Willy
... Emily Trent
... Elizabeth Trent
George Downing ... Barlow
... Harranby
John Bett ... McPherson
... Station Despatcher
Janine Duvitski ... Maggie
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Storyline

Sutherland and Connery wish to rob a moving train's safe in Victorian England. They need wax impressions of keys, coffins, dead cats, and a great deal of planning in order to pull it off. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Never have so few taken so much from so many.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 February 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Great Train Robbery  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$391,942, 4 February 1979, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$13,027,857
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (as Dolby Sound)

Color:

(sepia colour)| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sean Connery spent several days running on top of a moving train. The train was supposed to be traveling at 35 miles per hour; Connery argued it was going faster. The train driver was counting telegraph poles to measure the speed. A helicopter pilot confirmed Connery's suspicion - the train was traveling at over 55 miles per hour. See more »

Goofs

The second of the bridges that Pierce has to duck under is of an all-metal construction that would not have been used by 1855. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Edward Pierce: [narration] In the year 1855, England and France were at war with Russia in the Crimea. The English troops were paid in gold. Once a month, twenty-five thousand pounds in gold was loaded into strongboxes inside the London bank of Huddleston and Bradford and taken by trusted armed guards to the railway station. The convoy followed no fixed route or timetable. At the station, the gold was loaded into the luggage van of the Folkestone train for shipment to the coast and from there to ...
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Soundtracks

Sonata in D major K.448 for two pianos, 3rd movement
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Played by as a piano duet
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

If you've turned nose on me I'll see you in Lavender.
11 August 2011 | by See all my reviews

The First Great Train Robbery is directed by Michael Crichton who also writes the screenplay. It stars Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley-Anne Down, Wayne Sleep, Robert Lang, Alan Webb and Andre Morell. Music is scored by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth. The story is loosely based on the real Great Gold Robbery of 1855, where a rogue criminal named William Pierce and his cohorts executed the theft of £12,000 in gold from a speeding train on route to aid the British Army during the Crimean War.

A delightful period caper picture that's high on production value and fun characterisations. Split into two halves, Crichton's movie makes light of the actual crime to portray Connery and co as lovable rogues, thus hooking the viewer in to actually root for them to pull off the intricate crime. First half (well it's more two thirds of the film to be exact) details how the robbers obtained the four keys needed to get into the safe. Harder than it sounds since they are in different locations to one and other and guarded over by different officials. Naturally there are scrapes, skirmishes and obstacles to overcome during this complex operation, and no short amount of humour and tension either. Then it's on to the actual crime, which buzzes ferociously with derring do and ingenious cheek! It may have been loaded with chitter chatter and much bluffing of the way leading up to it, but the pay off is excellent and not without genuine excitement as Connery's (doing his own stunt work) Pierce and Sutherland's safe cracking Agar pull off the seemingly impossible.

Benefiting the film greatly is Crichton's attention to detail, where he thrives on the Victorian England setting. From the streets, the costumes, the dialogue and mannerisms of the characters, they all fit nicely within the narrative. Helps, too, that the cast are playing it with tongue in cheek, Connery and Sutherland are revelling in playing roguish dandies, splendidly attired facially with quality face fuzz and Down raises the temperature of Connery and male audience members alike. Probably her best ever performance, Crichton writes a good role for Down that sees her not only as a sexy head turner (it's unlikely that Victorian underwear has ever looked this sexy before in film), but also as an observant member of the gang; one who isn't too shabby on the disguise front either. Dancer Wayne Sleep is nicely cast as a fleet footed housebreaker, while Lang, Webb, Morell and Michael Elphick pitch their respective performances just right. Goldsmith's score is energetic and Unsworth's (his last film as he sadly passed away shortly after shooting it) photography is a lesson in quality without trickery.

Fanciful and tame if compared to the big budgeted actioners of today, The First Great Train Robbery none the less is testament that simplicity of plot and a keenness to entertain is sometimes all you need. 8/10


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