Two convicts escape from a prison situated in the snowy desolated Alaska. After a taxing cross-country walk n a swim across a freezing river, the two fellas board an empty train but their joy is interrupted when the old driver falls off due to heart attack and the train accelerates.Written by
Akira Kurosawa got the idea for the story from a Times Magazine article about a train that took off without an engineer. The screenplay that he wrote was not developed for a Western audience and there was no female character on the train. Brian Gendece privately raised development funds so veteran Producer Henry T. Weinstein (no relation to Harvey) could hire Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, Paul Zindel, to pen the First Draft Screenplay. This was before Cannon Film's involvement. See more »
Some have pointed out that the dead man's switch, a device intended for this exact situation, should have put on the brakes and stopped the train. Indeed, it should have - however, it is explained in the film that the dead-man switch malfunctioned. Furthermore it has been pointed out that in a real situation the emergency brake application by the engineer would have switched the throttle to idle bringing the train to a stop. Although true, this shouldn't be considered a goof as factual accuracy would not allow further evolving of events. See more »
While the US and DVD version is missing the shot of the cop being pulled under the wheels of the train, it is included on the uncut Australian region 4 DVD from MGM and the UK DVD from Arrow Films See more »
Gloria in D Major
by Antonio Vivaldi (as Vivaldi)
Performed by The USSR Academic Russian Chorus and the Moscow Conservatoire Students Orchestra See more »
A modest masterpiece
The stock title promises action and suspense, and we get that, but with a story by Akira Kurosawa, expert direction by Russian émigré Andrei Konchalovsky and superior lensing by Alan Hume, we get a study of what defines a man.
John Voight and the vastly underrated Eric Roberts play two cons who escape from a hellish gulag and board a train with no driver. Their struggle to stop the train and battle their own inner demons is the movie.
Konchalovsky creates a cold, alien, ethereal world inside the train that, in the oddest way, provides a haven for self-examination for the two leads. Rebecca de Mournay is layered into the mix, as is the indefatigable John P. Ryan as a prison warden who risks death to return his charges to custody, but the movie belongs to Voight and Roberts who both bring tremendous humanity to their finely sketched characters.
The final image is as powerful as cinema gets and marks RUNAWAY TRAIN as a modest masterpiece.
Though often criticized for producing cheap rubbish, the Cannon Group, in fact, also produced many fine films including this, 52 PICK-UP and MARIA'S LOVERS (also Konchalovsky).
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