Night Train Munich Austen Trevor

Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Director: Carol Reed
Starring: Margaret Lockwood,Rex Harrison,Paul Henreid
IMDB: 7.3
Genres: Military & War, Thriller, Comedy
Studio: Fox
MPAA rating: NR (Not Rated)
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When the Germans march into Prague, armour-plating inventor Dr Bomasch flees to England. His daughter Anna escapes from arrest to join him, but the Gestapo manage to kidnap them both back to Berlin. As war looms, British secret service agent Gus Bennet follows disguised as a senior German army officer. His ploy is the not unpleasant one of pretending to woo Anna to the German cause

Excellent Early World War II Thriller

An intrepid British spy boards the NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICHina desperate attempt to rescue a scientist & his beautifuldaughter from the Nazis.

Here is an excellent wartime thriller, with just the rightamountof puckish humor to keep the film from becoming too heavy.Very fine acting & excellent production values addtremendously to the success of the film, with director SirCarolReed showing hints of the style which would distinguishhispostwar crime classic, THE THIRD MAN, a decade hence.

Margaret Lockwood is lovely, but she is given remarkablylittleto do outside of looking anxious or scared. Not to worry,theaction is carried admirably by the male side of the cast,mostnotably Sir Rex Harrison as the British agent. Whethergliblysinging silly songs or engaged in deadly gun battles intheBavarian Alps, he carries off his role with his characteristicaplomb.

Paul Henreid completes the quasi-romantic triangle. Menacing& sophisticated, he is an excellent example of Nazidetermination & evil. Sir Felix Aylmer, very effectivelyplayingagainst type, wraps his unique voice around the small part ofaGerman spy master. Roland Culver, Torin Thatcher & IanFleming – the character actor, not the author – might beglimpsed in cameo roles.

Fans of Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s splendid THE LADY VANISHES(1938) will be heartened at seeing the return of the charactersCharters & Caldicott, those criquet-mad twits, played bytheoriginal actors, Basil Radford & Naughton Wayne. Theirinitialperformances had proved so successful that they were giventhe opportunity to reprise the roles several times, thisbeingthe most successful of their reappearances. Their inclusionhere, about two-thirds into the story, gives the film adecidedlift, making the whole procedure jolly good entertainment.

Charters and Caldicot Hit One For The Home Team

I disagree with the user who commented that these two fine characters areacouple of "English Dolts". English they most certainly are and that is thepoint. Dolts they are most certainly not. The writer uses them as comicrelief and to parody the British Middle and Upper Class mentality thatignored Facisim in Europe for so long. Their preoccupation with cricket,tennis and golf is but a tool. Mistaking "Mein Kampf" for a marital aid isboth a joke and a jab at English ignorance of matters concerning theContinent. One can almost here them make that classic comment attributedtoanother Englishman; "the Wogs begin at Calais." Their bumbling actionsarean example of English self deprecating humor. I have enjoyed these twocharacters in a number of films and only wish they had appeared inmore.

Carol Reed has created a classic in the same mould as Hitchcock’s ‘Lady Vanishes’

A wonderful spy thriller, has Margaret Lockwood as Anna

Bomasch, the daughter of a Czech scientist, who is whisked off to England for safety, when the

Germans invade. Lockwood is imprisoned in a concentration

camp. Later she meets up with Karl Marsen (Paul Henreid ) and

they engineer an escape together and meet up with her father in

England. When the Germans recapture them, Gus Bennett (Rex

Harrison a M.I.5. agent) is assigned to bring them back.Lockwood and Harrison spark off each other wonderfully well, and

in a small role is Irene Handl, but the film is almost stolen by Basil

Radford, and Naunton Wayne, as the two cricket loving Englishmen, who were such a big hit in Hitchcock’s ‘Lady

Vanishes’.After seeing this film for the umpteenth time, it is every bit as good

as ‘Lady Vanishes’ and well worth recommending.

A true suspense film !

Rex Harrison plays against type to great effect in Sir Carol Reed’s NIGHTTRAIN. the atmospere of the film is suitable foggy and dismal and thescreenplay keeps you on edge. Harrison demonstrates a keen sense ofunderplay that until this point he never had a chance to play on screen. Afilm to be savored.

A fabulous spy film boasting top draw scripting, and supreme direction.

Carol Reed is a truly wonderful director, his CV boasts the likes ofThe Third Man, Oliver and Odd Man Out, all great films for sure, whichonly makes it more infuriating that a gem like Night Train To Munich isincredibly hard to get hold of. I have only managed to catch it myselfbecause of the unearthing of VHS tapes long thought to have been lostyears ago, and it’s just like finding hidden treasure I tell you! Basedon a story by Gordon Wellesley, and scripted by the adroitly talentedteaming of Sydney Gilliat/Frank Launder, Night Train To Munich is alesson in how to not over blow your subject, all the sequences flowwithout boring the viewer, with Reed astutely approaching the materialwith subtlety instead of blunderbuss bluster.

Another highlight of the movie to me is that it could have so easilybeen a propaganda bore, the Germans being the devil incarnate, but hereit feels that an equality of characterisations was the order of theday. Something that many other genre pieces lost sight of further downthe line. Rex Harrison, Margaret Lockwood and Paul Henreid are allexcellent here, whilst wonderful comedic relief comes courtesy ofNaunton Wayne and Basil Radford’s English cricketers {fans of The LadyVanishes will identify right away}. Although this picture is scriptdriven above all else, the action sequences are a joy to behold, withthe final third of the picture an unadulterated pleasure, spies andstooges, plants and treachery, oh it’s all here folks, enjoy, if youcan get a good print of it! 9/10

Night Train to Munich-Get On Board This One ***1/2

Very good Rex Harrison and Margaret Lockwood vehicle at the dawn ofWorld War 11.

As Nazi Germany goes on the march against Austria, The Sudetenland andthe rest of Czechoslovakia, a woman and her father prepare to flee theCzech country only for her to be imprisoned. The father, a scientist,is desired by the Nazis to work for them.

While the father escapes, the daughter is trapped and imprisoned. Thereshe meets Paul Henried, who comes to her aid to get her to England.What she doesn’t know is that Henried is a Nazi official himself whowants Lockwood to lead him directly to her father.

When this does happen, Lockwood, in England, had met secret agent RexHarrison. Harrison goes to Germany disguised as a German army officialtrying to get Lockwood and her father out.

The film is a good one as there are constant twists along the way.Naturally, Harrison is recognized by 2 British men in Germany, butluckily he was as they are later able to warn him that the Germans knowwhat he is up to.

The ending is an exciting chase scene as the trio flee to Switzerlandvia a ski lift with Henried and his men in hot pursuit.

Surprisingly, the film has little violence.

Bullets fly high in the Alps in this early war film

This is an interesting and enjoyable war movie involving espionage,kidnapping and rescuing people in the early days of World War II."Night Train to Munich" came out in August 1940 in Great Britain and inDecember in the U.S. Up to that time, the Allies had very little theycould boast about to raise hopes and boost morale. The film setting is1939 – at the official start of WW II when Germany invaded Poland (Sept1, 1939). But, by the film’s release date, Germany had since invadedDenmark, Norway, France, Belgium and the Netherlands; and, the Battleof Britain had begun in July of 1940.

So, this film no doubt served as a morale booster at the time. Whilethe Allies couldn’t show much hope with battles being fought and won,they could make films about successes in spy and rescue events. Whilethe story for this film is fictitious, there were many instances inwhich Allied and underground efforts helped people escape the Nazis.Early in the 1930s, British economist William Beveridge established theAcademic Assistance Council that helped 1,500 Jewish and otheracademics escape Germany. Albert Einstein, John Maynard Keynes, ErnestRutherford and others supported the group.

This film has a fine cast, with Rex Harrison in the lead as GusBennett, a British secret service agent whose real name is DickieRandall. Margaret Lockwood has the female lead as Anna Bomasch. Themovie mixes some early witty dialog and humor with intrigue andsuspense as Gus launches his rescue attempt to get Anna and herscientist father, Axel Bomasch (played by James Harcourt) out ofGermany to Switzerland. This is just the second appearance of a comicduo who would go on to appear in a number of films with their dryhumor. Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne are Charters and Caldicott, whomGus enlists in his rescue effort. Paul Henreid plays a somewhat gentleyet nasty Nazi, Karl Marsen.

While this is a very good movie, I found some things in it that wereodd. First was the naiveté of Anna in her first escape to England withKarl. Why would she believe Karl that she needed to hide, and not godirectly to British authorities to find her father? Second was hercrass attitude toward Gus Bennett who had reunited her with her father.She was a Yugoslav refugee in Great Britain under the protection of theBritish government, yet she treated her protector with disdain. I thinkthe comedy could have been greatly reworked here so that she doesn’tcome off as a nag and ungrateful complainer. Here are a couple examplesof the comedy dialog between the two.

Anna, "Nothing that happened to me in that concentration camp (in 1939,before she escaped the first time) was quite as dreadful as listeningto you day after day singing those appalling songs." Gus, "With thosefew words, you’ve knocked the bottom out of my entire existence." Anna,"Pity I only knocked it."

Anna, "You know, if a woman ever loved you like you love yourself, itwould be one of the romances of history." Gus, "Since I’m unlikely tothink of an adequate reply to that, I think we ought to drink a toast.England expects that every secret service man this night shall do hisduty." He pulls the cork on a champagne bottle that doesn’t pop."Flat!"

One quick scene I found very amusing was of a newsstand that hadenlarged ad boards of Hitler’s book, "Mein Kampf." In between them wasan equally large ad board for Margaret Mitchell’s novel, "Gone With theWind."

Finally, there was quite a lot wrong with the last scene and the escapeover a cable car from Germany to Switzerland. When the Nazis arrived,bullets began to fly as Gus fends them off while the rest make thecable crossing. The distance had to be several hundred yards. The gunplay reminded me of the "B" Westerns I went to as a kid growing up inthe 1940s and 1950s. Those Western six-shooters often had a dozen ormore bullets in them. In this film, Gus appears to have a 32-caliber orsimilar revolver. The Germans also have similar weapons. The IMDb"Goofs" section notes this. With the advantage of DVD, I could back upthe film and count the gunshots. Gus fired his small revolver a fulltwo dozen times. And, he and two Germans who had handguns fired themmore than 60 times. There were no scenes of anyone reloading theirweapons. Finally, Gus was quite the shooter. He appears to be 200 to300 yards away when he shoots Karl. Most expert weapons sources saythat the maximum effective range for any pistol is about 50 yards.Indeed, the military pistol qualifying range from standing is just 25yards. The National Rifle Association expert firing distance is 25 feetfrom standing, using both hands.

The silliness of these few instances detract somewhat from the film.Still, it is a very good movie overall, on a subject that later filmsduring the war and after would explore in more detail. Rescuingscientists from the clutches of the Nazis makes interesting viewing –especially if one doesn’t have a big combat action movie to watch.

Stiff Upper Lip, Good Chap

Carol Reed displays his ability to combine the elements of a superbthriller with the droll comedy of the English drawing room in thisespionage suspense film set during WWII.

Rex Harrison shines as a Brit disguising himself as a Nazi officer sohe can infiltrate German headquarters and make off with a scientist andhis daughter being held captive. The film culminates in a nail-bitingfinale set on the German/Swiss border.

Bland Margaret Lockwood plays the heroine, but it doesn’t much matterthat she’s pretty much a drip, because Harrison is the one you want towatch anyway. Paul Henreid equips himself well as an evil German.

Aside from Harrison, the highlight of the film are the incidentalcharacters played by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, who play twouninvolved British civilians who are persuaded to help Harrison’s teamoutwit the Nazis and who react exactly the same to Nazis shooting atthem as they do Nazis stealing their seats on the train. These twoactors were paired up and used in a very similar way in AlfredHitchcock’s film from a few years prior, "The Lady Vanishes."

Though its year of release here is listed as 1940, "Night Train toMunich" was nominated for a 1941 Academy Award in the category of BestOriginal Story (Gordon Wellesley), an award it lost to Harry Segall for"Here Comes Mr. Jordan."

Grade: A

Englishmen abroad

The French are ardently patriotic; the Germans swell with tender pride;the Americans get earnest and emotional; but surely only the Englishcan ever have acquired the idiosyncratic habit of making propaganda byraising a laugh at our own expense? It’s a trait that, I suspect, maywell leave other nations mystified; but it is this sting ofself-deprecating irony that leavens the best of British war films andis characteristic of its era. Coincidentally, it also helps to makethem notable long after the event, where more conventional propagandatends to become ponderous and slightly embarrassing. Englishmen of acertain class have always made a virtue of never taking anything quiteseriously — and so, in lieu of John-Wayne-style heroics, we haveLeslie Howard or Rex Harrison serving King and Country under the maskof the charming, seemingly-incompetent amateur.

In Night Train to Munich, Charters and Caldicott illustrate perhaps theepitome of English humour at its own expense — as caricatures theycould almost have stepped out of propaganda for the other side. We areintended to laugh at them, and we do. But they represent also all thedogged and prized eccentricity of the nation, a red rag in the face ofNazi efficiency and uniformity. They are insular and sport-obsessed,far more interested in their own affairs than in interfering with therest of the world: but by jingo, if they do–!

As a comedy-thriller "Night Train to Munich" went down very well at theNational Film Theatre, and I was very glad to have caught the finalscreening of the season after missing them all when it played here lastyear. I did feel that the comedy elements were ultimately moresuccessful than the pure action sequences, though. Given theconstraints of wartime filming it suffers understandably from anabsence of location shooting and some rather obvious model-work, andthe big battle at the finale is riddled with unintentionally comicclichés, such as the revolver that fires dozens of shots withoutreloading only to come up suddenly empty for dramatic convenience, theenemies who couldn’t hit the proverbial barn-door with a rifle whilethe hero is unfailingly accurate with a hand-gun, and a crippling woundthat is conveniently forgotten when it comes to mid-air acrobatics. Thebeginning of the film also features one of the most bizarre episodes ofwould-be brutality that I’ve ever encountered — presumably censoredfor audience sensibilities — where a concentration camp inmate isapparently being savagely beaten by a guard, but the sound effectsattached suggest something more along the lines of a petulant tappingwith a fly-whisk!

Watching Rex Harrison infiltrate Nazi Germany armed with nothing morethan supreme impudence and a monocle, on the other hand, is pureunalloyed delight, as are his undercover scenes in England as heendeavours to hawk popular songs by means of persistent performance.His double-act with Margaret Lockwood as they portray the warringcouple who inevitably end up united is both amusing and genuinelycredible: the film admirably refrains from underlining the moment whenshe — and the audience — realise that she really does care for him.And, as always with actors originally recognised from performances inmiddle age, he comes across as amazingly young and debonair, and yetstill unmistakably Rex Harrison — a slightly disorienting experience!

The real disorientation, however, comes from the casting of PaulHenreid in the rival role of Karl Marsen, the Nazi intelligence agent,a coup that becomes quite unintendedly effective from his subsequentHollywood career featuring parts as romantic leads. Given that I’d lastseen him as sensitive confidant of Bette Davis in "Now, Voyager", Iinstinctively assumed that his clean-cut Czech resister was to be thehero of the piece, and the role reversal took me as completely bysurprise as could have been hoped for. But the character remains anoddly sympathetic one — indeed, the Germans in general are depicted asharassed human beings rather than monsters — and it is hard not toempathize with him as he watches his ‘womanising’ rival supposedlysweep the girl they both love off her feet. In the final scenes, as helies wounded in the path of the returning cable car, I found myselffrankly terrified on his behalf that the action clichés would culminatein Karl’s death crushed beneath the cabin that has carried his rival tosafety, and surprised and relieved when he was allowed — albeit bereft– to survive the battle.

"Night Train to Munich" is probably most effective when it is at itsmost flippant, whether at the English or German expense, and at itsmost formulaic where it tries to be ‘serious’. But it has moments ofgenuine tension and feeling and is a fast-moving, entertaining picture.It’s a long time since I saw "The Lady Vanishes" — of which this isoften cited as a pale shadow — and the Hitchcock production doesn’tseem to have left much impression on me over the intervening years; butI thoroughly enjoyed "Night Train to Munich", for all its flaws, andremain impressed by its sheer sangfroid as a wartime morale-raiser.

An exciting precursor to James Bond himself.

Carol Reed’s wonderful and interesting style of suspenseful film (seen inall its glory in ‘The Third Man’) is evident in this early spy flick. RexReed is an OSS operative who must journey deep into the heart of the ThirdReich to rescue an important scientist before the Nazis can make full useofhim. The characters are not just two-dimensional although they may seemthat way; they use every trick and opportunity to get through their stickysituation. The sudden appearance of two of the characters fromHitchcock’s’The Lady Vanishes’ is a real treat, too!

The story itself is very intricate, with crosses and double-crosses andrandom occurances causing problems in our hero’s way. The film issuccessfully able to weave genius storytelling, great acting, andeffectivecinematography to make it an intriguing spy film that is surely ahead ofitstime! And the finale is certainly an indicator of what the James Bondfilmswould bring us years later.

Even though it was filmed in the beginning of WWII, it is not astereotypical, or dull, film. A must-see!

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