Monday, November 03, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Terror on a Train (1953) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Glenn Ford stars as a former WWII munitions expert called on to defuse a bomb on a British train full of explosives in TERROR ON A TRAIN (1953), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

The film, originally released in the U.S. under the title TIME BOMB, follows what happens when British authorities learn a train filled with mines has been sabotaged and will explode in a few hours' time, with potentially devastating results.

The train is parked on a siding and the local village evacuated while the police identify a nearby UXB expert who can get to the train quickly; he's Peter Lyncort (Ford), a former Canadian Marine now living in Birmingham.

The bomb drama comes at a bad time for Peter, as his French wife Janine (Anne Vernon) is bored with life in Birmingham and threatening to leave him and go to Paris; she looks back with rose-colored glasses at her wartime courtship with Peter. As it happens, Janine's attempt to board an overnight train to Paris is thwarted by the bomb plot. She returns to her mysteriously empty home and is terrified when she eventually realizes just where her missing husband might be. (Perhaps that heightened wartime romance wasn't quite so glamorous after all...)

I really enjoyed this short little 72-minute film. I'm constantly amazed to realize how many American actors starred in British films of the early '50s. I love these types of movies, with their cozy, authentic British settings and casts, such as Maurice Denham as the inspector who bravely pitches in to give Peter a hand looking for the timing device on the train. For me watching such a film is the equivalent of curling up with a good book on a rainy day.

Ford, of course, is perfectly cast as a man who is calm and patient, whether dealing with his high-strung wife or searching for a bomb which could go off at any moment.

To be sure, the movie does not always have a great deal of logic. First and foremost, why was such a huge load of mines on a train without any security whatsoever? Was it normal to take so many at a time through populated areas? What if the train had crashed? And was there really no one currently in the military close enough to handle the situation?

That said, I was happily willing to suspend disbelief to watch Ford perform his heroics alongside a plucky and resourceful group of British policemen. Anyone who enjoys the British-American thrillers and crime films of this era will probably enjoy it too.

TERROR ON A TRAIN was directed by Ted Tetzlaff (THE WINDOW). It was shot by F.A Young. The story and screenplay were by Kern Bennett.

The DVD is a good print; the disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older