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Blu-ray Reviews

The Train Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray MGM Twilight Time

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#1 of 18 Matt Hough

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Posted June 11 2014 - 01:27 PM

The Train Blu-ray Review

A riveting and sadly under-appreciated World War II caper adventure made with great intelligence and heart behind the filmmaking, John Frankenheimer’s The Train holds its own with all films based on events coming from that international conflict. With the imminent liberation of Paris beckoning while frenzied Nazis plan their escape, Frankenheimer’s film takes hold of the viewer in its gritty grip and doesn’t let go until the last haunting image fades in the memory. With two enthralling central performances and the director at the very peak of his powers, The Train deserves to be on everyone’s must-see list.


Cover Art


Studio: MGM

Distributed By: Twilight Time

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 2 Hr. 13 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

keep case

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: All

Release Date: 06/10/2014

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Determined to loot the art museums of Paris for their treasures which he’ll carry back triumphantly to Berlin, Colonel Franz Von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) insists on a train to transport his stolen art treasures even though Nazi leaders need it for troop transport out of the country with the Allies about to enter the city. He commands (unknown to him) French underground leader Labiche (Burt Lancaster) to engineer the train on the journey from France to Germany, but the active underground workers near the end of their four-year occupation by the Nazis have several surprises planned to prevent the artworks from leaving their homeland. And even when Waldheim takes direct command of the engine, Labiche on his own has a few tricks left to slow down the determined colonel, playing against time in hoping the Allies will finally arrive.

Frankenheimer takes his time setting up the elaborate exposition of the characters and their differences of opinion about the plan (even the main title sequence is unique as we see the art treasures boxed up for shipment letting us know what masterpieces are at stake just by the painters’ names on the crates) before we get to the eventual caper. Because we aren’t clued in exactly what the first couple of planned detours for the Nazis will be, they come as much of a surprise to the viewer as they eventually become for the Germans (kudos to Oscar-nominated writers Franklin Coen, Frank Davis and the uncredited assists of Walter Bernstein, Ned Young, and Howard Infell for withholding information for the smartest of reasons). Once events begin to transpire, we are propelled from one terrific set piece to another with tension gathering all the while as director Frankenheimer stages and shoots some of the most exciting and impressive overhead artillery attacks seen in movies (all the more impressive because they’re done in real time with real equipment and not with special effects miniatures) and then several wrecks and derailings that are just visually so stunning. The director handles the actors and the action with equal dexterity making this one of his most impressive cinematic forays.

Burt Lancaster’s commanding presence as resistance leader Labiche combines his serious acting chops with his unparalleled physicality to make his character the central focus of the entire enterprise and one of his most memorable performances. Paul Scofield is the very soul of maniacal cool as the aristocratic German colonel determined to have his way regardless of how the war is going (though that cool eventually evaporates as things begin going seriously wrong). In what amounts to little more than a cameo role, Jeanne Moreau as a hotel proprietor who aids Lancaster’s Labiche is grimly effective while Wolfgang Preiss as the colonel’s second-in-command is equally impressive as his more reasonable underling. As French resistance fighters who take various parts in the train camouflages and sabotages, Michel Simon, Albert Remy, Charles Millot, and Jacques Marin all play their parts with precision even if they are dubbed in some cases by English speaking actors.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film is framed at 1.66:1 for this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Grayscale is thoroughly impressive with solid black levels and crisp whites. Sharpness is superlative offering extremely detailed images which are almost painterly in their emotional impact. There are dust specks that pop up here and there and some spotting in three or four prominent places, but overall the image quality is so spectacular that these few anomalies hardly matter. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix is very typical of its era. Dialogue is presented clearly and even the dubbed voices are matched extremely well in volume levels with the directly recorded speech. Maurice Jarre’s very spare score and the explosive sound effects have much better than average heft to them making for a solid mono soundtrack. There are no age-related problems with hiss or other noise to spoil the suspense of this treasurable viewing and listening experience.



Special Features Rating: 3/5

Audio Commentaries: two are provided. Director John Frankenheimer laconically narrates some anecdotes he can remember about making the movie with several silent patches throughout. The new commentary featuring producer Nick Redman, film historian Julie Kirgo, and film professor Paul Seydor is an outstanding one as the three share interesting and illuminating information and opinions on this masterful work.

Isolated Score Track: Maurice Jarre’s score is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.

Theatrical Trailer (4:23, SD)

MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer (2:06, HD)

Six-Page Booklet: contains a nice selection of slightly tinted stills, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s enthusiastic essay on the film.



Overall Rating: 4/5

Highly Recommended! John Frankenheimer’s The Train has been neglected for far too long. As one of the real jewels in his filmography, it deserves serious rediscovery and appreciation as one of the era’s most outstanding war-based thrillers. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies .


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 18 Dave B Ferris

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Posted June 11 2014 - 02:02 PM

I have the DVD of this film included in the 4-movie "Frankenheimer" box set.

However, I was motivated to anticipate and purchase this Blu by the passion for this film here at HTF, and by the interstitial piece that Frankenheimer narrated for TCM - his tribute to Burt Lancaster. I especially enjoy hearing Frankenheimer talk about Lancaster doing his own stunts, as several of the stunts from this film play under Frankenheimer's narration.

#3 of 18 atcolomb

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Posted June 11 2014 - 05:45 PM

One of my first laserdiscs was The Train and then came the non-anamorphic dvd which was ok and last year the MGM HD channel did show it full widescreen so to me a easy purchase and worth the high price for this great film and one of Frankenheimers's best.



#4 of 18 Richard Gallagher

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Posted June 11 2014 - 09:01 PM

I ordered The Train the first day it was available. I have the laserdisc but I'm looking forward to seeing it in HD and I'm glad to see Matt's enthusiastic review.


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#5 of 18 Matt Hough

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Posted June 12 2014 - 05:36 AM

It always amazes me how little known this movie is. I was talking with a friend of mine last night and told him what I had reviewed earlier in the day, and even though he's a World War II movie nut (loves Where Eagles Dare and Von Ryan's Express and, of course, The Longest Day), he had never HEARD of this movie! He'll be getting my DVD copy, and I'll be curious to hear the reaction from someone who comes into the movie completely green. 


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#6 of 18 jauritt

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Posted June 12 2014 - 07:27 AM

Besides being a beautiful transfer of a great movie, the commentary w/Nick Redman provides an added little bonus with his declaration that Birdman of Alcatraz is being prepared for release by Screen Archives later in the year.  It's too bad John Frankenheimer isn't around to provide a commentary for that blu-ray, as he always provided, in my opinion, terrific commentaries (Seconds, Seven Days in May (DVD), Manchurian Candidate and, of course, The Train).



#7 of 18 telzall

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Posted June 12 2014 - 07:45 AM

Big fan of this movie and Seven Days in May (DVD), Manchurian Candidate.  Gave my DVD away to a co-worker.  Can't wait for the BD!!!  I must've seen this first in theaters because the last fifteen minutes have "always" been with me.



#8 of 18 Twilight Time

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Posted June 12 2014 - 12:46 PM

Besides being a beautiful transfer of a great movie, the commentary w/Nick Redman provides an added little bonus with his declaration that Birdman of Alcatraz is being prepared for release by Screen Archives later in the year.  It's too bad John Frankenheimer isn't around to provide a commentary for that blu-ray, as he always provided, in my opinion, terrific commentaries (Seconds, Seven Days in May (DVD), Manchurian Candidate and, of course, The Train).

Incidentally, jauritt, just for the sake of accuracy, Screen Archives is our retail outlet, they have nothing to do with selecting, producing, or preparing the discs.


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#9 of 18 jauritt

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Posted June 12 2014 - 01:29 PM

Incidentally, jauritt, just for the sake of accuracy, Screen Archives is our retail outlet, they have nothing to do with selecting, producing, or preparing the discs.

Thank you for correcting my post and making that distinction. It is accurate, from what I gleaned from the Nick Redman et al commentary on The Train, that Birdman of Alcatraz is on Twilight Time's agenda and, of course, that is certainly good news.



#10 of 18 Adam Gregorich

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Posted June 12 2014 - 07:58 PM

I've never seen this, and am really looking forward to watching my copy based on the review and comments.  Thanks for the great review Matt, and to Twilight Time for releasing on Blu-ray!



#11 of 18 Charles Smith

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Posted June 12 2014 - 08:11 PM

I've never seen it either, but I spot-checked my copy yesterday and it looks wonderful. I'll be digging into it this weekend.

#12 of 18 Robert Crawford

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Posted June 14 2014 - 11:01 PM

I've never seen this, and am really looking forward to watching my copy based on the review and comments.  Thanks for the great review Matt, and to Twilight Time for releasing on Blu-ray!

It has been a favorite of mine since 1965. I simply loved this film and it's a reason why Burt Lancaster became one of my favorite actors after Wayne, Cagney and Garfield.


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#13 of 18 hypnotoad8128

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Posted June 15 2014 - 05:52 AM

I love John Frankenheimer films. Birdman Of Alcatraz being my favourite, so it's great to see this released on blu-ray. I've ordered my copy to import based off this review.

#14 of 18 JohnMor

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Posted June 15 2014 - 10:20 AM

I watched this for the first time yesterday.  Wonderful film!  I had owned the dvd for years based on the recommendation of a friend who has always loved the movie, but based on the poor dvd reviews, it was one of the very few discs I had never watched.  SO glad I waited for a better edition to come along.  While the plot has holes galore, the acting, direction and cinematography are just superb.  



#15 of 18 Jacksmyname

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Posted June 15 2014 - 07:35 PM

Thanks for another great review, Matt.

Looking forward to getting my copy. I also love WWII movies, but had never seen this one until about 2 or 3 years ago on TCM.



#16 of 18 atfree

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Posted June 17 2014 - 05:33 AM

Watched this last night....great transfer of a great movie. Thanks TT.

 

I love Frankenheimer, although he had a tendency to go off the rails at time (re: The Island of Doctor Moreau, Prophecy). Would love to see "Seven Days in May" on BD as it's one of my all-time faves. My assumption is that it's with Warners, so who knows if we'll ever get it.


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#17 of 18 Mark VH

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Posted June 19 2014 - 07:27 AM

For those on the fence about this one, Twilight Time just posted this to Facebook:

 

"THE TRAIN is now limited to one copy per person. The title is moving very fast and at the current rate of sale might only last another week or two."

 

Needless to say, just ordered my copy.



#18 of 18 Dee Zee

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Posted July 13 2014 - 08:44 AM

I just ordered a copy today so still in stock.







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