Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau, Suzanne Flon, Michel Simon
Directors: Arthur Penn, John Frankenheimer
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Paris, August 1944. With the Allied army closing in, German commander and art fanatic Colonel von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) steals a vast collection of rare French paintings and loads them onto a train bound for Berlin. But... more »
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Pamela G. (pamgram1) from CHAFFEE, MO
Reviewed on 3/9/2010...
Such a great classic black and white movie. This is another wonderful vehicle for Burt Lancaster. The action doesn't fail and in my opinion this movie is a definite keeper. One that will make your collection proud!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Frankenheimer's Overlooked Classic: The Best Action Film
PETER R TALBOT | Harrison, New Jersey United States | 07/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Burt Lancaster called on director John Frankeheimer yet again to rescue another picture from another director who had left the project, the call took Frankenheimer to Paris to bring his brilliant black and white extreme depth of focus shots to bear on thought provoking subject matter.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."
Steven Hellerstedt | 06/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is a work of art worth a human life?
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.
Frankenheimer tells us he was trying to give the movie a realistic feel, which I understood before listening to the commentary track but didn't really understand how he went about it. One trick he used was to open the f-stop on the camera and keep everything in focus, something that would have been impossible if THE TRAIN wasn't shot in black and white. Everything is kept in focus and he keeps the background action busy and interesting.
Frankenheimer is an unabashed fan of Burt Lancaster, with whom he made five movies. Not only does Lancaster do all his own stunts in this one, including a dangerous backwards fall off of a moving train, he even fills in as a stunt double for another actor. The original stuntman made a fall off a roof look like an "olympic jump," and `realism' was the keyword in this one. Lancaster did take a nice tumble off the tiles, but you've got to wonder about the wisdom of it all. Lancaster was injured during the filming of THE TRAIN; on his first day off in weeks he played a round of golf and twisted his knee when he stepped into a hole. His right knee swelled up `like a basketball.' Frankenheimer shot Labiche in the leg halfway through the movie to explain the limp.
The only phony movie aspect to this movie is the dubbed voices of some of the French actors. You can't hide dubbing very well, and Frankenheimer doesn't have much to say about it. I wouldn't knock a star or even a half-star off because of it. This is a tremendously entertaining film."
Perhaps Frankenheimer?s Best
Mad Dog | Canada | 12/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fankenheimer is a director's director - something of an icon in contemporary American Film. He has worked with the best, and has made some of the most innovative and intelligent movies of the last forty years. While always a director of "smart" films, he mastered the action-film early in his career and to a certain extent this has over-shadowed his deeper (and darker) side.On a superficial level "The Train" is the last of the "full-scale" action films. They blow up everything in sight for real, they crash real steam-locomotives, and many of the actors are doing their own stunts. In fact Burt Lancaster not only does all his own stunts, he stands in for other actors too!But unlike most action-flicks, "The Train" goes deeper. Lancaster plays the French resistance leader asked to stop Nazi Colonel Paul Schofeild from leaving Paris with a train load of paintings. "Let them have the paintings," Lancaster replies. He doesn't see the point in risking anyone's life for a work of art. "But they are the soul of France". And this is where the real interest (and the subtext) starts.Imagine your house is on fire. You run inside and you can save your favorite pet, or the Van Gogh hanging on the wall. What do you choose? Well that's the thesis behind "The Train" - why are these paintings worth dying for? Why are they worth killing for? (Incidentally Lancaster took a similar position a few years later in "Castle Keep"). Lancaster could care less about the paintings. And Schofeild will kill anyone and anything that tries to stop him leaving with them. Not only is it a clash of cultures, it's a clash about culture. A Nazi kills to save the artwork his own ideology has called degenerate; a partisan kills to save the art he has never wanted to see.The DVD has an excellent commentary by Frankenheimer. He describes the behind the scenes action, the difficulties and joys of this production, the demolishion of locomotives (and cameras), and the joys of working with Burt Lancaster. And he's very articulate about it. The DVD is also in the original wide-screen aspect, opening up the image considerably.If you're a fan of the war film or the action genre, The Train is a must have. And if oyu just like good film making, then it's still a must see."