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 » when a beloved French patriot is murdered while trying to sabotage von Waldheim's scheme, Labiche (Burt Lancaster), a stalwart member of the Resistance, vows to stop the train at any cost. Calling upon his vast arsenal of skills, Labiche unleashes a torrent of devastation anddestructionloosened rails, shattered tracks and head-on collisionsin an impassioned, suspense-filled quest for justice, retribution and revenge. Inspired by an actual event and highlighted by spectacular stuntwork and visual effects, The Train is "an edge-of-your-seat, thrilling, suspenseful and superior film" (The Motion Picture Guide).« less
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."
Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Matisse, , ...
Melimar | USA | 07/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Frankenheimer's "The Train" is an outstanding Black and White WWII ("action") film from the unforgettable 60's, when much emphasis was placed on good acting and characterization.Close to the end of the war, while withdrawing, the Nazis attempted to lute famous French museums, and transport to Germany art treasures, hundreds of paintings of world fame - part of France's national identity. Among many popular French performers, such as Michel Simon ("Le diable et les dix commandements") and Jeanne Moreau ("Jules et Jim") - remember ? we've seen her in Beson's "La Femme Nikita") shine America's unforgettable Burt Lancaster as Labiche, the French "cheminot" who opposes England's Paul Scofield, perfectly cast as von Waldheim, the German colonel obsessed with "his mission" to "save" the painting by having them transported by train from Paris to Berlin. Real life adventure with a believable plot, attention to details, image, dialogues, and ever growing tension until the final "denouement". It's the same director who gave us the more recent "Ronin" (filmed in France), and classics, such as "Seven Days in May" (also with Burt Lancaster) and "The Manchurian Candidate", and, if want to see more of Paul Scofield, consider watching one more time, Fred Zinneman's "A Man of All Seasons".Very good DVD rendition of a truly great film from John Frankenheimer !"
ONE OF THE BEST ACTION FILMS EVER! - DON'T MISS IT!
Paulo Leite | Lisbon, Portugal | 03/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a bona fide classic! One of the most influential action movies ever. Watch it and you'll see the elments that were later used in action films like Die Hard, etc.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."