The Train (1964)

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German title Der Zug (cinema)
The Train (home cinema publ.)
Original title The train
Country of production USA , Italy , France
original language English
Publishing year 1964
length 133 minutes
Age rating FSK 18
Director John Frankenheimer
script Franklin Coen
Frank Davis
production Jules Bricken
music Maurice Jarre
camera Jean Tournier
Walter Wottitz
cut David Bretherton
Gabriel Rongier

The train is a 1964 in black and white twisted, US-American - French - Italian war film by John Frankenheimer . He describes the efforts of members of the Resistance to stop a train of the German Wehrmacht loaded with stolen French works of art .

The film was nominated for an Oscar in the category Best Original Screenplay in 1966.


The German Wehrmacht tries to create important works of art and a. by Cézanne , Picasso and Miró from occupied Paris from the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume before the advancing Allies by rail into the German Reich . Oberst von Waldheim is an art lover and does not want to leave these objects behind in France, as he considers them to be more valuable than gold. Paul Labiche, an employee of the SNCF and a member of the Resistance, tries to prevent this through his contacts.

Engine driver Papa Boule has no contact with the Resistance, but still doesn't want the Germans to transport the works of art. He clogged the oil line of his steam locomotive with a coin and, as expected, remained lying a few kilometers later. His sabotage is discovered by the Germans, however, and he is shot.

The locomotive is repaired in night work and, on the instructions of Colonel Waldheim, Labiche is the locomotive driver. But Labiche, with the help of the Resistance, has come up with a plan to mislead the German companions on the train. Along the traveled route, the name plates of the stations are exchanged or covered so that during the nightly journey it is possible to pretend to the German soldiers under Captain Schmidt that they are traveling in the direction of Zweibrücken . In truth, however, the train goes in a circle and is back in the greater Paris area the next morning, where an accident is staged.

Labiche first lets his stoker disconnect the train. The wagons lose speed, which gives the now solo locomotive some head start. After a few hundred meters both jump off after Labiche has brought the speed controller to full steam. The locomotive now accelerates strongly and rushes into the station at high speed. There she rams the locomotive of a small freight train, which the station master there had deliberately derailed at a switch shortly beforehand.

Another locomotive was started up behind the train by two other Resistance members. Shortly before the station both jump off, and the driverless locomotive drives into the last car (the passenger car for the security guards) of the train and completely destroys it; in the process, Captain Schmidt and the German escort team are killed.

Both locomotives and some cars have now derailed, the rails are badly damaged, but nothing happens to the freight car with the works of art. As far as the Germans can catch those involved in the action, they too will be shot.

A crane is brought in from Paris to clear the route again. Now Colonel von Waldheim and Major Herren are on the train themselves and have placed French people as hostages all around on the sheet metal of the steam locomotive. Labiche manages to sit in front of the train and place an explosive charge on the rails. But when he sees that there are hostages on the locomotive, he triggers the charge so early that the damage is relatively minor and can be repaired soon. He manages to escape again and loosen a few screws from the thresholds further up the line. Although a German advance team inspected the line, the damage was not noticed in time and the locomotive jumped off the rails.

Now a crane was needed again, but it is no longer available that quickly. Time is of the essence as the Allies march on Paris. The German escort command under Major Herren recognized the hopelessness and sat down on Wehrmacht trucks that were passing on the neighboring street. Before that, however, the French hostages are shot.

Colonel von Waldheim cannot part with the works of art and remains alone on the spot. Labiche comes out of hiding and shoots him.


The script, which was rewritten several times (including by Walter Bernstein, not mentioned ), was inspired by Rose Valland's non-fiction book Le Front de l'Art 1939–1945 . Although director Arthur Penn had originally brought the project to Burt Lancaster , Lancaster obtained Penn's dismissal shortly after filming began and brought John Frankenheimer into the project to give the film the action-oriented weight that Lancaster wanted.

The train started in German cinemas on November 6, 1964, and in GDR cinemas on July 15, 1966 .

In 1966 Franklin Coen and Frank Davis were nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay .

Home theater publications

The film was dubbed in German and was released on DVD by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in September 2003 , followed by a German-language Blu-ray edition by FilmConfect in November 2016 . Both editions appeared under the original English title The Train and were not approved for young people by the FSK .


“The film describes the efforts of the resistance movement to prevent the evacuation. He shows himself to be more interested in tension than in a deeper illumination of the conflicts. In its technically perfect, sober style, the film deserves attention. "


  • Rose Valland: Le Front de l'Art 1939–1945, Éditions Plon, Paris 1961.

Web links

Commons : The Train (1964 film)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

supporting documents

  1. a b The train in the Internet Movie Database .
  2. 2004 interview with Arthur Penn in Bright Lights Film Journal , number 65, August 2009, accessed November 13, 2011.
  3. The train. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used