The expansive war action thriller “The Train” starring acting legends Burt Lancaster and Jeanne Moreau is dramatic, suspenseful and technically bombast at the same time. It also marks the end of an era. Now he gets a new edition in the home cinema.

Based loosely on true events, a star-studded cast tells the story of heroic people who prevented the Nazis from getting rich with foreign art during World War II: when you think of George Clooney’s “Monuments Men – Uncommon Heroes” you have quite a memory for mixed reviews, moderately successful dramas. And you missed the chance to think of a snappy action classic instead.

Because long before Clooney, “Ronin” director John Frankenheimer took on the material and created an immensely elaborate war thriller, which, however, does not rely on spectacle alone: ​​”Der Zug” garnered acclaim for its captivatingly structured script, which created tragic overtones, the also nominated for an Oscar. From now on “Der Zug” is available again as a new edition in a limited media book with an edition of 18 copiesincluding the movie on DVD and Blu-ray:

» “The Train” limited media book at Amazon*

Incidentally, several older editions of the film are still available, including one Standard blu ray* and a Blu-ray media book*. It doesn’t matter which edition you choose: you choose a film that action pro Frankenheimer looked back on with pride during his lifetime.

Than the director once described the war film as “the last great action movie in black and white” – and without wanting to offend fans of later produced black-and-white action films: in terms of bombastic effort and the skillful enjoyment of the black-and-white atmosphere, there has been hardly any significant competition in this genre since “Der Zug”.

“The Train”: The resistance, art treasures and a lot of production stress

1944: Nazi Colonel von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) is an art lover and uses the occupation of France to evacuate museums. The art treasures are then transported to Germany by freight train. Museum curator Villard (Suzanne Flon) informs resistance fighter Paul Labiche (Burt Lancaster) of this plan, hoping that he and his people will stop it. With elaborate tricks, childish jokes and staged accidents, Labiche gains time – but suddenly the supposedly innocent mission becomes relentlessly serious!

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“The Train” could end up elsewhere: Originally “Bonnie and Clyde” became director Arthur Penn was hired for the project, but he and lead actor Burt Lancaster could not agree on a tone of voice and narrative focus. A week after the start of shooting, the attempt to get together was abandoned: Penn, who wanted to tell a more intimate story, was fired. Lancaster then set course for an action-packed movie.

Within a short time, substitute Frankenheimer was forced to revise the script and do all the planning for the now longer and more complicated action sequences. All this while the crew at the original locations in France had to deal with an unforeseen cold snap.

The problems didn’t stop there: With the artistic rearrangement, the film went over budget as well as schedule, Lancaster also injured himself playing golf during a self-imposed break from filming. Therefore, further script changes were necessary. Among other things, several characters had to be organically written out of the story, played by stars who jumped off the “train” due to filming delays.

However, these issues are not noticeable in the film, which begins in an entertaining and relaxed way and gradually increases in intensity: The story runs like a train that perfectly follows its timetable (if you can imagine such a thing), the numerous, logistically complicated plan sequences give it suspense and height of the fall.

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And like the Mission: Impossible movies, famous for their constant script revisions, the stunts are in a league of their own: According to Frankenheimer, Burt Lancaster insisted on performing all his own stunts and a disused train station was blown up.

Since both Lancaster and his co-scene partner Albert Rémy have several scenes where they scramble between real moving wagons on real train routes, many joked that this movie would be impossible today: No insurance company in the world would allow that today – although it’s unclear what Tom Cruise would say about this…

But as impossible as a production like “The Train” would really be today, this war action thriller leaves a lasting impression – not least because of the excellent black-and-white photography and the believably raw development of its hero. There’s only one thing the movie doesn’t do: a quick replay of “Monuments Men.”

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