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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 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).
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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 DesowitzAdditional Features:
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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