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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.


Michael Crichton


Michael Crichton (screenplay by), Michael Crichton (based on his novel)

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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Connery ... Pierce
Donald Sutherland ... Agar
Lesley-Anne Down ... Miriam
Alan Webb Alan Webb ... Trent
Malcolm Terris ... Fowler
Robert Lang ... Sharp
Michael Elphick ... Burgess
Wayne Sleep Wayne Sleep ... Clean Willy
Pamela Salem ... Emily Trent
Gabrielle Lloyd ... Elizabeth Trent
George Downing George Downing ... Barlow
James Cossins ... Harranby
John Bett John Bett ... McPherson
Peter Benson ... Station Despatcher
Janine Duvitski Janine Duvitski ... Maggie


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


Never have so few taken so much from so many.


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:






Release Date:

2 February 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Great Train Robbery See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$391,942, 4 February 1979, Limited Release

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby (as Dolby Sound)


Black and White (sepia colour) (opening sequence) (closing sequence)| Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Trevor Howard was offered the role of Edgar Trent. See more »


During the robbery sequence, the telegraph line beside the track appears and disappears. See more »


[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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Alternate Versions

Under the terms of the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937 all UK versions of the film are cut by 32 secs with edits to a scene where a dog hunts and kills rats in a show arena ('ratting'). See more »


Referenced in Backseat (2005) See more »


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

Amusing film about the greatest heist of all time with convincing acting , suspenseful and evocative settings
29 July 2013 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Attractive picture written and directed by Michael Crichton who based his book and movie only loosely on the actual crime committed in 1855 about stealing shipment of gold from a moving train and destined to the Crimea for British soldiers who are there fighting the Russians . In Victorian England , a brilliant trio of crooks conspire to pull off a spectacular heist ; they are formed by an elegant master criminal called Edward Pierce (boastful Sean Connery spent several days running on top of a moving train) and his accomplices , a pickpocket cracksman called Agar (Donald Sutherland) and a beautiful mistress named Miriam (Lesley-Anne Down) make a elaborate plan to steal a shipment of gold from a moving train . But the gold is stored in two locked safes that requires four separate keys to be opened . Never have so few taken so much from so many .

Based on a true incident , this intrigue-filled caper has been packed with suspense , thrills , action , stylish fun and hooks to keep interested . The film was entitled "The First Great Train Robbery" to distance it from a £2 million robbery from a mail train in 1963 which was known in the British press as "The Great Train Robbery" . The movie faithfully reflects some events of the Victorian era such as large differences of classes , public executions applauded by the assistants , carriage parades and many other things . Sensational trio protagonist who can steal your heart , as Sean Connery as a dashing mastermind , Donald Sutherland as a skill cracksman , and a gorgeous Lesly-Anne Down . Agreeable support cast such as Robert Lang , Michael Elphick , Alan Webb and Wayne Sleep ,one of Britain's premier ballet dancers, from The Royal Ballet Company , he actually did his own stunts, including scaling the Newgate prison walls, at the tremendous risk of falling and hurting himself . And it was the final film for both André Morell and Peter Butterworth, both of whom had died by the time that it was released . Thrilling and intriguing musical score by the great Jerry Goldsmith , director Michael Crichton frequently hired Jerry Goldsmith to compose the scores for his films . Colorful and evocative cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth , in fact , the picture is dedicated to his memory ; being marvelously photographed against gorgeous Irish countryside . The motion picture was well directed by Michael Crichton . After giving up medicine, Michael moved to Hollywood, California, in the early 1970s and began directing movies based on his books, his first big break being ¨Westworld¨ (1973) and subsequently wrote and directed other successes as ¨Coma¨, ¨Runaway¨ and ¨13º warrior¨ until his early death by cancer at 66 years old .

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