The Train Screen 4 articles

The Train

1964

The Train Poster
  • Both [The Monuments Men and The Train] are heavily fictionalized adaptations about the Nazi plunder of European art treasures as the Second World War approached its close. While George Clooney’s film never finds a tone or a compelling storyline and is given over to speeches about the beauty and wonder of what’s being hauled away by the Third Reich, Frankenheimer’s moves with locomotive speed, rarely pausing throughout a lengthy running time.

  • Using almost all real locations—and blowing up many real trains and trucks, too—Frankenheimer makes a kick-ass genre film seem like history writ large, even if that history involves Burt Lancaster playing a Frenchman. Much like The Great Escape, another rousing fact-based/fact-fudging WWII thriller released the year before, it has a “print the legend” quality that’s an entirely forgivable trade-off for what really happened.

  • A ripping system of motion, at once streamlined spectacle and thorny moral quandary—"Beauty belongs to the man who can appreciate it," so goes the pivotal barb in a showdown strewn with corpses and paintings. Inglourious Basterds has an echo or two, considerations extend to Éloge de l'amour and The Rape of Europa.

  • Frankenheimer’s picture was, remarkably, an assignment he took over after the original director Arthur Penn was let go due to differences with star and producer, Lancaster. It neither feels like a movie Frankenheimer took over nor a work for hire – it’s so intricately executed, so demanding an exercise, and at such a scale, that even with all the preparation and time in the world, an almost military precision would be needed to deliver.