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Top 10 Films About Trains: Westerns and War Movies

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With cinemagoers flocking to see Brad Pitt realise he has more than a few unwanted travelling companions aboard a Shinkansen express in David Leitch's Bullet Train (2022), Cinema Paradiso embarks upon a multi-part look at how trains have been used on the big screen.

A still from Bullet Train (2022)
A still from Bullet Train (2022)

One of the most iconic moments in cinema history involved a train. According to legend, when Auguste and Louis Lumière first showed L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat to a paying audience in December 1895, the patrons fled in terror because they thought that the steam locomotive pulling into the platform was going to come through the screen and crush them. The film that inspired this apocryphal anecdote can be rented from Cinema Paradiso on the BFI's marvellous 2005 collection, Early Cinema Primitives and Pioneers.

Recognising a good thing when he saw it, Georges Méliès remade the film at Joinville Station in 1896. In 1904, he also sent a train into space in Voyage à travers l'impossible, which also forms part of the BFI selection. However, you'll need to go to R.W. Paul: The Collected Films (1895-1908) for Walter R. Booth's A Railway Collision (1900), which provides an early example of a film-maker using models to create a crash.

Méliès went on to fix a camera to a carriage roof in order to offer a point-of-view experience of rail travel in Panorama pris d'un train en marche (1898). But one enterprising American entrepreneur, George C. Hale, recognised the money-making potential of putting patrons in a replica railway compartment and projecting images of the passing scene on to its window. Hale's Tours debuted at the St Louis Exhibition of 1904 and made such an impression that concessions sprang up across the United States and Europe. Max Ophüls even had Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan take a trip in Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948), although this Viennese variation used panoramic paintings that passed by the window on rollers operated by pedal power.

The year before Hale launched his 'phantom ride', Edwin S. Porter made screen history of a more enduringly significant kind by cross-cutting to present parallel actions in The Great Train Robbery (1903). This 12-minute proto-Western can be found on both Early Cinema Primitives and Pioneers and Retour de Flamme, Volume 3 (2006). As Charles Musser points out in the 1982 documentary, Before the Nickelodeon: The Cinema of Edwin S. Porter, this landmark in the evolution of narrative film had an incalculable influence on the silent era and beyond.

A still from The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: Vol.1 (1969)
A still from The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: Vol.1 (1969)

Audiences certainly responded to the excitement of the storyline and the makers of the first serials exploited this thrill factor by devising cliffhanging endings to each episode of their chapterplays. A popular ploy was to have villains in top hats tie the heroine to the railroad track in classic adventures like The Perils of Pauline (1914) and The Hazards of Helen (1914-15), which inspired The Wacky Races (1968-69) spin-off, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (1969).

By the end of the decade, trains were being employed as mobile cinemas in the Soviet Union to promote the benefits of Bolshevism. Among the most innovative advocates of the Russian Revolution was Dziga Vertov, whose Kino Eye shorts helped him hone the shooting and editorial skills that would not only make his 1929 'city symphony', Man With a Movie Camera, an agit-prop masterpiece, but also a key work in the booming field of experimental or avant-garde cinema.

Another key film with loco links was Viktor Turin's Turksib (1929), which chronicled the construction of the Turkestan-Siberia Railway. John Grierson, the driving force behind the British Documentary Movement, was a great admirer of the film, hence its inclusion in the BFI's The Soviet Influence: From Turksib to Night Mail (2011), The latter title is equally significant, as Basil Wright and Harry Watt's Night Mail (1936) made inspired use of W.H. Auden's verses and Benjamin Britten's music to follow the postal special, 'Scots Guardsman', on its trip from London to Glasgow.

Although this poetic epic was produced by the GPO Film Unit, it exerted a considerable influence on the work of British Transport Films. The BFI has recognised the brilliance of the shorts produced by Edgar Anstey's unit and has gathered them in a 14-volume set that is accompanied by two 'Best of' selections. All trainiacs need do is type 'British Transport Films' into the Cinema Paradiso searchline and sit back and enjoy!

The Italian maestro Federico Fellini once claimed, 'Our duty as storytellers is to bring people to the station. There each person will choose his or her own train…But we must at least take them to the station…to a point of departure.' So, all aboard and let's see where this journey of cinematic discovery will take us.

On the Atchison, Topeka and the Sante Fe

When it comes to the Hollywood Western, trains were seen as a symbol of civilisation in the untamed frontier. They brought supplies to outlying towns and made it easier for ranchers to move their livestock over long distances. But steam locomotives also brought chancers from the big cities, whose intentions were invariably larcenous and whose ideas were often subversive. Gunslingers and lawmen also travelled on trains, whose tracks traversed the land of the indigenous tribes, who were often brutally uprooted in the name of progress. The flipside of the Manifest Destiny was rarely considered during the studio era, but modern viewers should always bear in mind that railroads in the Old West took a high human toll.

The focus falls on the navvies who built the first transcontinenal line in John Ford's imposing silent, The Iron Horse (1924). Some of the racial depictions are exceedingly dubious, but this is myth-making writ large and few did it with more patriotic conviction than Ford. However, only the major studios could afford the period locomotives required to give the action authenticity. Even Ford prints the legend here, as his claim to have used trains from the 1860s is entirely false.

A still from Bing Crosby Collection: Rhythm on the River / Rhythm on the Range (1940)
A still from Bing Crosby Collection: Rhythm on the River / Rhythm on the Range (1940)

Not all Westerns were action-packed tugs on the national conscience, however. In Norman Taurog's Rhythm on the Range (1936), for example, socialite Frances Farmer does a flit the night before her wedding and rides the rails with singing cowboy Bing Crosby on his way home from a rodeo. Romance isn't in the air in Edward F. Cline's My Little Chickadee (1940), though, when chanteuse Flower Belle Lee (Mae West) encounters con-man Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C. Fields) on a train bound for Greasewood City. But she does develop strong feelings for his bulging bag of money.

A romantic disappointment forces lonelyheart Judy Garland to take a job in a restaurant in Sandrock, Arizona, where she helps fight Judge Preston Foster's plans to close the premises to boost custom at his saloon in George Sidney's The Harvey Girls (1946), which sees Garland belt out Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer's Oscar-winning ditty, 'On the the Atchison, Topeka and the Sante Fe'. On a more sombre note, the latter town provides the backdrop for the action in Michael Curtiz's Santa Fe Trail (1940), as abolitionist John Brown (Raymond Massey) and his Underground Railway come in for criticism, as West Point classmates Jeb Stuart (Errol Flynn) and George Custer (Ronald Reagan) compete for the affections of Kit Carson Holliday (Olivia De Havilland).

A triangle also forms in King Vidor's Duel in the Sun (1946), as brothers Jesse (Joseph Cotten) and Lewt McCanles (Gregory Peck) fall out over Mestiza, Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones). Despite the fact Lewt derails a train laden with explosives, Pearl can't resist his wicked ways. His reign of terror wouldn't have lasted long with Luke Smith (Alan Ladd) on the scene. In Leslie Fenton's Whispering Smith (1948), which was the third big-screen adaptation of Frank H. Spearman's novel, the railroad detective not only tracks down the train-robbing Banton gang, but also outsmarts old friend Murray Sinclair (Preston Foster) after he loots a crashed train on the Nebraska & Pacific line.

Everyone in the town of Hadleyville awaits the arrival of the train bringing outlaw Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) to his showdown with Marshal Will Kane in Fred Zinnemann's High Noon (1952), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture for its allegorical critique of the Communist witch-hunt in Cold War Hollywood. The antagonism in Roy Nazarro's Kansas Pacific (1953) is between railroad engineer John Nelson (Sterling Hayden) and William Quantrill (Reed Hadley), who realises that stations will boost Union communications in the coming conflict against the Confederacy.

The Civil War provides the setting for Francis D. Lyon's The Great Locomotive Chase (1956), a Disneyfied take on historical events that sends Union soldier James J. Andrews (Fess Parker) behind enemy lines to steal a train from Atlanta and leave a trail of destruction along the track north. The scene shifts to Arizona Territory in the 1880s, as hard-up rancher Van Heflin agrees to escort outlaw Glenn Ford to the nearest town to catch the train taking him to justice in Delmer Daves's 3:10 to Yuma (1957). When James Mangold revisited Elmore Leonard's source story in 3:10 to Yuma (2007), the roles were respectively taken by Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.

Deserving to be much better known, James Neilsen's Technirama Western, Night Passage (1957), sees rail tycoon Jay C. Flippen hire James Stewart to ensure that a payroll reaches its destination and not the pockets of outlaws Dan Duryea and Audie Murphy. Heading home to hire a schoolteacher for his Texan town, Gary Cooper is also carrying a stash of cash in Anthony Mann's Man of the West (1958). However, the train is attacked and Coop finds himself stranded with the outlaws.

Those of a certain vintage will have fond memories of Alan Hale, Jr. at the throttle of the Cannonball Express in the TV series, Casey Jones (1957-58). But they may have to rummage in the deeper recesses for John Sturges's Last Train From Gun Hill (1959), even though it reunited the director with Kirk Douglas after Gunfight At the O.K. Corral (1957). This hard-hitting saga pits lawman Douglas against rancher Anthony Quinn, as he tries to ensure that his wife's killer is in his custody aboard the night train.

Print the Legend

A still from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
A still from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

The arrival of a train opens John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, as Senator Ransom Stoddart (James Stewart) comes to Shinbone to pay homage to his old friend, Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). Ford was also involved in How the West Was Won (both 1962), but George Marshall and Henry Hathaway directed the segments entitled 'The Railroads' and 'The Outlaws', which respectively commemorate the building in the 1860s of the rival Central Pacific and Union Pacific lines and depict an 1889 attack on gold train by Eli Wallach and his gang.

Wallach lands the middle berth between Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef in Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). However, the manner in which he escapes from a train and uses the next service to bust the handcuffs tethering him to his dead escort is pretty ingenious. Trains don't feature all that regularly in Spaghetti Westerns, but Leone's Once Upon A Time in the West (1968) is an exception. Not only does the plot turn around a railroad, but the scenes in which Harmonica (Charles Bronson) deals with a reception party at a remote halt and in which he meets the ruthless Frank (Henry Fonda) in his luxurious compartment are also unbearably tense.

The train in Leone's A Fistful of Dynamite (1971) gets to enjoy two moments in the spotlight, as Irish republican James Coburn, Mexican peon Rod Steiger and treacherous doctor Romolo Valli confront a crooked governor and, then, as the booby-trapped train is set on a collision course with a troop service bringing reinforcements to fight Pancho Villa. In Richard Brooks's The Professionals (1966), Burt Lancaster, Woody Strode, Robert Ryan and Lee Marvin take advantage of Mexican revolutionary Jack Palance killing the soldiers aboard a government engine, as they try to rescue a wealthy rancher's kidnapped wife.

Robert Redford runs across the carriage tops of a Union Pacific loco before Paul Newman enters into negotiations with the stubborn security guard protecting the safe in the explosively amusing train robbery sequence in George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The same year saw a train belonging to Mexican general Fernando Lamas ambushed by sheriff Jim Brown, bank robber Burt Reynolds and revolutionary Raquel Welch in Tom Gries's 100 Rifles (both 1969). In Howard Hawks's final feature, Rio Lobo (1970), John Wayne sets out to find a traitor in a Union camp after Confederates Jorge Rivero and Christopher Mitchum rob an army payroll train.

On hearing that a railroad is going to be diverted through Rock Ridge, the dastardly Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) tries to drive the residents out in order to take over and make his fortune. However, he factored without Black sheriff Cleavon Little and alcoholic gunslinger Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks's classic pastiche, Blazing Saddles (1974). Trains already run to Casper, Wyoming in Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980). Immigrants cling to the boxcar roofs, as they come in search of work. However, their presence is resented and station master Richard Masur has to warn Kris Kristofferson about a posse arriving on the express to support scheming lawman, Sam Waterston, who is in league with the local cattle barons.

For reasons too complicated to go into here, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) finds himself stranded in 1885 in Robert Zemeckis's Back to the Future III (1990) and needs a shove from a steam locomotive to power the DeLorean time machine created by Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Amusingly, Marty uses the alias Clint Eastwood. But there's little to smile about in Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992), in which English Bob (Richard Harris) rides into Big Whiskey on a train, while discussing the assassination attempt on President McKinley and proving his prowess with a gun by shooting at some passing pheasants.

A still from Wild Wild West (1999)
A still from Wild Wild West (1999)

Civil War veterans James West (Will Smith) and Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) don't need to use public transport, as they have their own train, 'The Wanderer', with which to hunt for the villainous Dr Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) in Barry Sonnenfeld's Wild Wild West (1999), which was loosely based on the popular TV series, The Wild Wild West (1965-69). The baddies are undoubtedly the railroad tycoons using violence to intimidate settlers into quitting their land in Les Mayfield's American Outlaws (2001). Having tried to resist, Jesse James (Colin Farrell) is arrested by Allan Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton). But he has no intention of taking a one-way train trip and makes an audacious escape.

Abetted by Oscar-nominated cinematographer, Roger Deakins, Andrew Dominik makes a magnificently measured job of staging the nocturnal train robbery at Blue Cut, Missouri in The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007). By contrast, Gore Verbinski goes down the all-action CGI-stunt route in The Lone Ranger (2013), as John Reid (Armie Hammer) and Tonto (Johnny Depp) have to escape from manacles, clamber on to the roof of a moving train and overcome armed guards in order to prevent a calamity on the unfinished Transcontinental Railroad.

War By Timetable

Trains transformed warfare. They were first used to mobilise troops in 1846, when Prussia sent a force of 12,000 to suppress the Polish Uprising. Rail links also proved vital in the Crimean War - with steam engines featuring in Richard Williams's animated credits for Tony Richardson's The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) - and we have already touched upon the part that trains played in the US Civil War.

As Michael Portillo points out in the BBC series, Railways of the Great War (2014), the 1914-18 conflict in Europe was virtually combat by timetable. It was also a war that ended in a train carriage, with the same wagon at Compiègne where the armistice was signed on 11November 1918 also being the place where Adolf Hitler accepted France's surrender on 22 June 1940.

A train also changed the history of Russia, as Lenin steamed into the Finland Station in Petrograd to launch the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Sergei Eisenstein included a scene of rail saboteurs being won over to the cause in October (1927) and we have already mentioned how agit-prop trains did much to spread the Communist message into the furthest corners of the old Imperial Empire.

A still from Doctor Zhivago (1965) With Omar Sharif And Geraldine Chaplin
A still from Doctor Zhivago (1965) With Omar Sharif And Geraldine Chaplin

David Lean emulates Eisenstein's use of close-ups during the train journey to Yuriatin in his adaptation of Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago (1965). With red flags fluttering on the roofs of the wagons, it chugs through an icy wilderness, with passengers crammed inside like cattle. However, Lean had already included a much more spectacular train sequence in his multi-Oscar winner, Lawrence of Arabia (1962), as T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) and Auda abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn) sabotage Turkish rail traffic in the desert.

Lean would also find room for a charming scene of a pristine steam engine rolling into the platform in his E.M. Forster adaptation, A Passage to India (1984). Richard Attenborough would include two train scenes in his Best Picture-winning biopic, Gandhi (1982). The first sees the 23 year-old Mohandas K. Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) being thrown off a train in South Africa in 1893 for sitting in a first-class compartment, while he later becomes acquainted with his homeland from the window of a slow-moving steam engine.

Gandhi spent much of the Second World War under house arrest, as the authorities prepared for a potential attack by the Japanese. The construction of a section of the Burma Railway is depicted in David Lean's Oscar-winning epic, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1958). Adapted from a novel by Pierre Boule, the action centres on the tensions that arise within the British POW ranks when Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) insists on the forced labour gangs making a good job of the bridge as an act of defiance. Andrew McLaglen's Return From the River Kwai (1989) isn't currently available to rent, but Cinema Paradiso users can follow war veteran Colin Firth's journey to meet his tyrannical Japanese gaoler in Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man (2013).

Private Alyosha Skvortsov (Vladimir Ivashov) is rewarded with a six-day furlough for his heroism in Grigori Chukhrai's Ballad of a Soldier (1959). In heading home to fix his mother's leaking roof, however, he finds himself sharing a freight wagon with Shura (Zhanna Prokhorenko), who is travelling to see her pilot fiancé in hospital. This notable example of Socialist Realism is well worth a look and it's a shame that René Clément's neo-realist thriller, The Battle of the Rails (1946), isn't on disc, as its account of the Maquis's efforts to sabotage trains during the Occupation makes for compelling viewing.

Half a century before George Clooney made The Monuments Men (2014), Burt Lancaster did his bit to stop the Germans making off with a loco-load of fine art in John Frankenheimer's The Train (1964). Exploring similar themes, but without any train-track action, Aleksandr Sokurov's Francofonia (2015) reveals how Jacques Jaujard (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) persuaded Franz von Wolff-Metternich (Benjamin Utzerath) to safeguard the Louvre collection from looters within the Nazi hierarchy.

A David Westheimer novel provides the impetus for Mark Robson's Von Ryan's Express (1966), which follows Colonel Frank Sinatra and a bunch of Anglo-American POWs, as they take over a train following the surrender of Italy and make a dash for the Swiss border before Major Wolfgang Preiss can recapture them. There may be less high-speed action in Jirí Menzel's Closely Observed Trains (1966), but it's none the less gripping. The winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, this adaptation of Bohumil Hrabal's novel centres on Václav Neckár, a naive train dispatcher at a quiet Czechoslovakian station, who becomes an accidental hero when a partisan sabotage plan looks likely to come unstuck.

Not all films about trains in the Second World War are so edifying. Two features were released in 1977 about the bordello trains that were sent to the front to service German soldiers. Among the most notorious pieces of Nazisploitation, Alain Payet's Hitler's Last Train, is not available to rent. But Patrice Rhamm's Captive Women 4 (aka Elsa Fraülein SS) can be ordered from Cinema Paradiso and reveals how the Resistance targeted a train in which Malisa Longo specialises in torturing those who have betrayed the Third Reich.

A still from Company of Heroes (2013) With Vinnie Jones, Tom Sizemore And Chad Michael Collins
A still from Company of Heroes (2013) With Vinnie Jones, Tom Sizemore And Chad Michael Collins

There's also a trackside shootout in Dan Michael Paul's Company of Heroes, as the locomotive on which Vinnie Jones, Tom Sizemore and their comrades are travelling is ambushed by a German patrol. Such gung-ho heroics, with their rapid-fire machine guns and deadly grenades, err towards video gaming rather than authentic combat. But the balance is restored by Stefan Kolditz's miniseries, Generation War (both 2013), as a partisan unit lies in wait for a passing Nazi train. The plan is to steal German weapons and ammunition. But the discovery of the train's human cargo pricks one man's conscience.

A number of films depict the distressing sight of Jews being loaded into cattle trucks for dispatch to the death camps. Among those to broach this harrowing subject are Andrzej Munk's The Passenger, Zbynek Brynych's Transport From Paradise (both 1963), Jan Némec's Diamonds of the Night (1964), Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), Roman Polanski's The Pianist (2002) and Joseph Vilsmaier's Auschwitz: The Last Journey (2006). None hits harder, however, than Claude Lanzmann's Shoah (1985), a 566-minute documentary that includes the testimony of Henryk Gawkowski, who drove transport trains while drunk on vodka, and Walter Stier, a onetime Nazi bureaucrat who describes the meticulous workings of the rail network, while also protesting that he was too busy with schedules to notice what the trains were actually carrying to Holocaust destinations across Poland.

A still from The Pianist (2002) With Adrien Brody
A still from The Pianist (2002) With Adrien Brody
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  • The Iron Horse (1924)

    2h 14min
    2h 14min

    John Ford's 50th silent picture was easily his best. Even though the chief villain is the landowner Fred Kohler, the depiction of the Cheyenne and the migrant workers is deplorably reliant on outdated stereotype. Yet Ford seeks to show the endeavour and danger involved in the building of the first transcontinental railroad, which was completed by the golden spur that joined the Central and the Union Pacific lines at Promontory Summit in 1869.

  • The Harvey Girls (1946)

    1h 37min
    1h 37min

    In this MGM musicalisation of a novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams, Judy Garland takes a train to the frontier town of Sandrock to meet her correspondence sweetheart. When he turns out to be an impostor, she takes a job as a waitress at one of Fred Harvey's trackside restaurants. However, she incurs the wrath of Angela Lansbury, a dancing girl from the nearby saloon, whose owner wants to eliminate any competition.

  • Whispering Smith (1948)

    1h 29min
    1h 29min

    Joe Lefors provided the model for the character played by Alan Ladd in Paramount's Technicolor take on a novel by Frank Spearman. George O'Brien had taken the role in two earlier features and Audie Murphy would inherit it for a popular TV series. But Ladd brings something of his noir stillness to bear, as a railroad detective discovers that the old pal who stole his former sweetheart is now in cahoots with a gang of outlaws.

  • The Great Locomotive Chase (1956)

    1h 24min
    1h 24min

    Walt Disney personally supervised Francis D. Lyon's reconstruction of the raid that occurred in Georgia at the height of the US Civil War. Buster Keaton had already used the sabotaging exploits of Union spy James J. Andrews for his 1926 masterpiece, The General. But Disney wanted to capture the derring-do of the enterprise and show the courage of both Andrews (Fess Parker) and Confederate conductor William Fuller (Jeffrey Hunter), as the rival engines steamed across the plains.

  • Night Passage (1957)

    1h 26min
    1h 26min

    Best known for ending James Stewart's fabled psychological Western partnership with director Anthony Mann (who loathed the script and opted to make The Tin Star with Henry Fonda instead), this James Neilsen Western follows railroad detective Grant McLaine, as he discovers that his younger brother is riding with outlaw Whitey Harbin (Dan Duryea) under the alias, The Utica Kid (Audie Murphy). Look out for Stewart crooning two songs on the accordion.

  • Ballad of a Soldier (1959) aka: Ballada o soldate

    1h 29min
    1h 29min

    With war raging around them, two strangers enjoy a moment of intimacy and serenity in this poignant Soviet war drama. Forced to share a wagon filled with hay bales on a train heading across the Steppe, Alyosha Skvortsov (Vladimir Ivashov) and Shura (Zhanna Prokhorenko) get to know each other to the metronomic clack of the wheels on the track. The monochrome lighting is often exquisite, but you'll need a tissue before the end of the line.

  • The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

    Play trailer
    2h 35min
    Play trailer
    2h 35min

    Alec Guinness won the Oscar for Best Actor for his masterly performance in David Leans sevenfold Oscar-winning masterpiece, as an officer who realises at the last moment that his actions have been recklessly misguided. He believes that by helping Japanese commandant Sessue Hayakawa build the Burma Railway, his fellow POWs will be proclaiming British virtues. However, neither second in command Jack Hawkins nor US Navy commander William Holden agrees with him.

  • The Train (1964) aka: John Frankenheimer's The Train

    Play trailer
    2h 8min
    Play trailer
    2h 8min

    The removal of Arthur Penn meant that this tale of French resistance became the fourth of Burt Lancaster's five collaborations with director John Frankenheimer. He plays regional train manager Paul Labiche, who is determined to prevent Nazi art connoisseur Colonel Fritz von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) from shipping a consignment of priceless paintings in the summer of 1944. With Jeanne Moreau managing the railway café and Jean Simon driving the engine, this is puzzlingly undervalued.

  • Von Ryan's Express (1965)

    Play trailer
    1h 52min
    Play trailer
    1h 52min

    Expecting Anthony Quinn to take the title role, director Mark Robson spent three months hunched over a train set planning the action sequences for this rousing wartime adventure. Twentieth Century-Fox cast Frank Sinatra instead of Quinn and the animosity between his American pilot and Trevor Howard's British major was partially fuelled by an off-screen antipathy during a shoot that almost saw Howard plunge to his death while filming in a Spanish gorge.

  • Closely Observed Trains (1966) aka: Ostre sledované vlaky

    Play trailer
    1h 28min
    Play trailer
    1h 28min

    A companion piece to Ján Kádar and Elmar Klos's The Shop on the High Street (1965), Jirí Menzel's debut feature is one of the masterworks of the Czech Film Miracle. Initially, trainee train dispatcher Václa Neckár is more interested in losing his virginity with conductress Jitka Bendová than he is resisting the Nazis who have taken over his town. But his grandfather's death prompts him to summon unsuspected depths of courage.