The Train (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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This is one of John Frankenheimer's breathless gems--all marvelous action that never lets up. Burt Lancaster plays a French train engineer during the waning days of the German occupation who tries to prevent Nazi colonel Paul Scofield from transporting a precious art collection back to Germany. Utilizing sabotage and cunning deception, Lancaster and his Resistance colleagues stall for time with the Allies on their way. It's a brilliantly made film, showing off Lancaster's acrobatic skills (he performed all of his own stunts) and Frankenheimer's sense of pacing and brilliant use of space. It's choreographed with the utmost precision (those are real explosions during the pivotal strafing sequence) and extremely authentic in its details. Lancaster is in rare minimalist form, and Scofield manages to extract intelligence and sympathy. A firecracker action film shot in crisp black and white, with yet another telling audio commentary by the always instructive director. --Bill Desowitz
At first, listening to a two-hour DVD commentary track by director John Frankenheimer on his 1965 film sounds like a dreadful time. His sparse commentary is the antithesis of the thrilling film, the last major black-and-white action picture. However, Frankenheimer warms up, filling us in on the problems in shooting the film, including bad luck (star Burt Lancaster injured his knee--playing golf), good luck (an old train yard was going to be mothballed--why not just blow it up for the film?), and his five-film relationship with the star ("Nobody moves like Lancaster," he insists). Also included are the long trailer and a music-only track highlighting Maurice Jarre's score. The result is a rewarding disc with a beautiful transfer of one of Hollywood's best and grittiest thrillers. --Doug Thomas
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Top Customer Reviews
We are near the end of World War II. It's August 2, 1944, the "1511th day of German occupation" of Paris. German Colonel von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) enters a dark museum and turns a spotlight on a painting. He stares at it with the eyes of a lover beholding his best beloved. He turns another spotlight on another painting. The Hun is humanized, and we sympathize with his quiet passion.
It comes as a bit of a shock when he announces that he is taking the paintings, hundreds of Miros and Picassos and Matisses and others, with him when the Germans evacuate Paris. A resistance group, led by railroad worker Paul Labiche (Burt Lancaster), is enlisted to stop them. Labiche initially refuses. It's one thing to blow up a train, dangerous enough - it's another to stop a train without damaging what's inside it. National heritage or not, men will die. There are more important targets than a train filled with art. Things change, though, and eventually Labiche and the remnants of his resistance group find themselves trying the impossible.
I've always been a little leery of Burt Lancaster. Maybe I was traumatized by viewing THE RAINMAKER or ELMER GANTRY at a young and impressionable age. He sometimes seems all horse teeth and braying charm and dis-tinct e-nunc-ee-a-shun. Not so here. In THE TRAIN he's restrained and natural and completely convincing. Scofield is equally strong as his brutal nemesis.
Sometimes the extras on a dvd aren't worth the bother, but I loved the director's commentary by the late John Frankenheimer. It was like taking a course in the art of film making.Read more ›
Although it is a little bit overlooked today, it remains a one [heck] of a ride! Lancaster plays a french railroad employee who works for the resistence. He and his group of three men must do anything to stop a train loaded with art treasures (Picassos, Matisses, Renoirs, Monets - no less) which is heading to Germany, according to the plans of a german Colonel who happens to love art. Stopping a train is easy - as they all discover. The problem is the art treasures who cannot be simply blown up (and that is a problem the allied planes do no know of).
So, it is up to a small group of men to keep the train out of both nazis and allies power - a difficult task in the last days of WW2.
The story meets many exciting complications and climaxes but the real catch is the strong performances from the two leads (Burt Lancaster and Paul Scofield) who fight each other in a battle of wills we'll rarely see again. Their antagonistic missions are the key element in a film full of great moments.
The black and white cinematography by Jean Tournier is great and the DVD do it justice. Keep in mind that this is a film by John Frankenheimmer - the great director who brought us movies like "The Manchurian Candidate", "Birdman of Alcatraz", and "The French Connection".
The DVD also has a great commentary by the director himself and an alternate "music-only" audio track for the Maurice Jarre's music soundtrack. This is a true great film. The only minus is the lack of a new dolby 5.1 sound mix - in a film like this, it would sure be a great thing! Anyway, the Dolby original Mono is solid enough.
La Bisch, the unwilling resistance man late in WWII (Lancaster) is pitted despite his objections against a cultured German general who is attempting to take every painted masterpiece out of Paris that can be found.
Knowing that delays to shipment in the face of the german retreat and allied advance, La Bisch uses both ingenuity and enormous physical effort to attempt to block the movement of a train laden with stolen art, eastbound from Paris.
The plot twists are the stuff of legend, and each twist provokes controversial positions regarding the importance of art and the brevity of human life.
The long shot action scenes in this film are brilliant, and Lancaster, who was injured during filming, performs much of the extraordinary scenes in the movie with a real (not feigned) limp.
Fine ensemble cast, including many of the best French character actors of the time, a serious script saved by brevity from the melodramatic and arguably the best camerawork and editing of any action film in history (you read right) make this film superior to Frankenheimer's other B&W films from the period (e.g., The Manchurian Candidate and even The Birdman of Alcatraz).
The Train belongs in any serious English language cine collection. This is one of the top 100 films of all time.
Most recent customer reviews
Has always been a favourite of mine. I wore out the VHS and am delighted Amazon has managed to procure me a DVD replacement as I understand it is currently out of print. Read morePublished 7 months ago by ken Arnott
These DVD's only play in their region; they would not play on my machine. Same for the other two on this page.Published 8 months ago by Robert Watson
It would have been more enjoyable if I would have received the movie!Published 15 months ago by James Brown
haven't been able to watch this movie yet cause I bought it as a gift and waiting to watch it with my friendPublished on June 4 2013 by Delsie L. Laird
This is a classic World War 2 video that I hadn't seen in years. But after watching it again, Burt Lancaster was as good as I recall for my younger days.Published on May 5 2013 by G. Papas
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