Sunday, July 31, 2011
The 5 Best Train Movies
Trains in films began with Edwin S. Porter's film, The Great Train Robbery (1903). A few years later, D.W Griffith's film, The Lonedale Operator (1911), was the first to have villains tie up heroine on the railroad tracks, to wait for the speeding oncoming train, then to be saved just in time from their doom. Thankfully, train movies have become more entertaining over the years.
The following titles show some of my favorite five train movies:
Twentieth Century (1934). Comedy. Directed by Howard Hawks. Cast: John Barrymore and Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns and Edgar Kennedy.
The story begins when, writer Oscar Jaffe meets lingerie model, Mildred Plotka and makes her the star of his latest play, despite how his two assistants, Oliver Webb and Owen O'Malley, feel about her talent. Oscar transforms her into the actress "Lily Garland", and both she and his play are a huge successes. Over the next three years, they have three more huge hits.
Feeling smothered, Lily tries to break off their relationship. Oscar talks her out of it, promising to give her more freedom. He secretly hires a private detective, McGonigle, to follow her. When she finds out, she leaves for Hollywood and becomes a great movie star on her own.
Without Lily, Oscar's plays are huge flops and he disguises himself to avoid creditors aboard the luxurious Twentieth Century Limited train, travelling from Chicago to New York City's Grand Central Station. By chance, Lily Garland also boards the same train at a later stop. Oscar sees a chance to get her to sign a contract with him. However, Lily is on her way to see Max Jacobs, to star in his play. Knowing that Lily maybe his last chance at success, he tells her that he wants her to play Mary Magdalene, in his new play. Oliver thinks he has found someone to finance Oscar's project, not realizing that his new partner Clark is a escapee from a mental hospital. When Oscar is wounded in a fight with Clark, he pretends to be dying...will he trick Lily into signing a contract?
A wonderful pairing of John Barrymore and Carole Lombard and a story which moves almost as fast as the train.
This is a very cute story about a wife Gerry, who decides to divorce her husband, Tom, and marry a rich man to get the money to finance Tom's invention. While on the train, Gerry meets one of the richest men in the world. When Tom goes to confront the man, Tom is introduced to his man-obsessed sister, who wants Tom to be husband number 6.
Colbert is perfect as Gerry. McCrea is wonderful playing her husband, but Vallee and Astor really steal the show as the eccentric millionaire and his sister. Also enjoyable to watch are the Ale and the Quail club and Dudley the old Wienie King.
The Train Robbers (1973). Western. Cast: John Wayne, Ann-Margret, Rod Taylor, and Ben Johnson. The movie was written and directed by Burt Kennedy. Mrs. Lowe wants the half million U.S. dollars in gold her late husband stole during a train robbery. Lane wants $50,000 reward, so he decides to help her, asking some old friends to help him. The men of the deceased husband of Mrs. Lowe also want the gold and will do anything to take the money from them.
Wayne and the rest of the weather worn cast perform well in this Western. Some of the scenes will remind you of a beautiful western painting.
The Train (1965). Cast: Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau. As the Allied Forces are fast approaching Paris, German Colonel Von Waldheim, is taking France's most famous paintings to Germany. He manages to find a train to transport the valuable art. The French resistance wants to stop them from stealing their national treasures, but have received orders from London that they are not to be destroyed. The station master, Labiche, is enlisted to help make it all happen, but he is also part of a small group of resistance fighters trying to keep the train from ever leaving Paris.
The big star of the film is the train, shown in amazing detail, to keep you in suspense.
Strangers on a Train (1951). A psychological thriller produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who was an expert when it came to using trains in his movies. Cast: Farley Granger, Ruth Roman and Robert Walker, and features Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock and Laura Elliott.
Bruno Antony, thinks he has come up with the perfect plot to kill his father when he meets tennis pro Guy Haines on a train. His plan is to have Guy kill his father and in trade he would kill Guy's wife Miriam, freeing him to marry Anne Morton. Guy does not think he is serious, but Bruno goes ahead with his half of the 'deal' and gets rid of Miriam. Guy can't believe it and Bruno makes it clear that he will plant evidence to implicate Guy in the murder if he doesn't kill Bruno's father. How will Guy deal with Bruno's madness?
Strangers on a Train, a dark wonderful comedy and is one my favorite Hitchcock's films.