Night Train to Munich (1940)

Night Train to Munich (1940), directed by Carol Reed.

After a Czech scientist and his daughter escape to England, Nazi agents kidnap them and take them back to Germany. Rex Harrison (who lost them) instantly turns the tables and goes to Germany to steal them back again.

This is often compared to Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938). Both are romance/thrillers with comic touches, both were written by the same people, both star Margaret Lockwood and feature "Charters & Caldicott", a pair of slightly dim and bumbling Englishmen who always seem to find the trouble spots (but who are stalwart when the chips are down). Both films use model work for buildings and trains which, although meticulous, are not very realistic by today's standards.

It's great fun, although the comic element doesn't emerge for about half an hour. The final segment with the night train, car chase and cable car battle are exciting and nicely tense. The last bit was copied in Where Eagles Dare (1968) thirty years later.

In the climactic shootout I counted 24 shots from Rex Harrison's revolver before it went click-click.

If you can do a German accent, here is a line by a Nazi bureaucrat you can quote in dull committee meetings: "In the future, don't make remarks that can be taken two ways!"

Criterion DVD, at last. This replaces the dismal Madacy VHS and DVD versions. Strangely, the Criterion disc has subtitles but I can't find a control for them on the menu. Use the remote button.

The image is slightly letterboxed. I wish they wouldn't do that, but I have been waiting for a good version of this film on DVD since day 1 and it would be churlish to complain.

(Later: available on Blu-ray from Criterion).

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