Cast and Crew: John Frankenheimer, Arthur Penn (Directors); Rose Valland (Book); Maurice Jarre (Score); Jeanne Moreau
What It’s About: Labiche (Burt Lancaster) is a member of the French resistance who is asked to stop Nazi officer Col. von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) from taking a train load of French paintings back to Germany. Initially he’s reluctant, but after the heroic but not very smart attempt to stop the train by old (and not terribly bright) hard ass “Papa” Boule (Michel Simon) ends in Papa’s death, the two other men in Labiche’s resistance cell decide to take up the fight. Eventually Labiche comes around, and a game of cat and mouse begins, during which the men who run the trains try every trick they know to stop the train. The Colonel is just as determined as Labiche. Mere tricks aren’t enough and the body count of Resistance members, rail workers and civilians begins to rise. Can Labiche find a way to stop the train without destroying the art inside?
Why Watch it Today?: The Train is based on a historical event, which began on this day in 1944, when Rose Antonia Maria Valland, a French art historian and member of the Resistance, learned that the Nazis planned to ship five boxcars full of art out of the city.