My last journal entry has got me thinking about trains and the films I've enjoyed which have featured them. So here, for anyone who might be interested, is a list of the ones I can remember:
Caught on a Train (Stephen Poliakoff, 1979). Peter, a young British publishing executive, takes the train to Germany for a book fair. Along the way he gets drawn into a web of paranoia and Kafkaesque victimization. It gets progressively darker and funnier as it goes along. Peggy Ashcroft gives an excellent performance as an elderly Viennese lady, with pre-war Nazi associations, with whom Peter gets "stuck" on his journey. It fizzles out at the end, but the trip is worth making.
Strangers on a Train. Top-flight 1950s Hitchcock. Two would-be killers meet by chance on a train and agree to swap murders. The consequences are not pleasant. Shot in pristine black and white, Strangers on a Train features some genuinely classic Hitchcock touches and scenes.
North by Northwest. The incomparable Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock collaboration (as I prefer to think of it) from 1959. Grant plays a New York advertising executive who is conveniently framed for a murder that he did not commit. He goes on the run and is helped (on a train) by Grace Kelly substitute, Eva Marie-Saint.
Cary Grant: How do you know that I'm not a killer?
Eva Marie-Saint: I don't...*smiles*
Charade (Stanley Donen, 1963) Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn/Paris. What more do you want? Charade is a surprisingly effective sub-Hitchcock caper. It's colourful, entertaining and the plot works as precisely as a clock. The scene I always remember features Cary Grant running at full pelt through the Paris subway system (hence the train association). For a man who must by then have been pushing sixty, he does very well...^^
Diva (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1981). Possibly my favourite French film. 'Super-Jules' (a young postman) is chased on his moped through the Paris subway system, by a particularly nasty pair of killers. And much else happens, besides....^^
I'm not into Agatha Christie, nor film adaptations of her work, but I ought not to leave this subject without mentioning Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet, 1974) which is by far the best of them. By which I mean the best directed and the best played, by all concerned. To my eyes, the film's influence on Stephen Poliakoff's Caught on a Train (of five years later) is clear. But then again, so is that of The Lady Vanishes....Enough!!