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CAROL REED 1940 PRE-WW2 THRILLER 'NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH'

year: 1940 Rating: ***
NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH: By the time we're on that title train to the title location, the dialogue-driven espionage is pretty much done and, for the most part, all the confusing matter of whether our leading man Rex Harrison, as Dickie Randall a.k.a. Gus Bennett, is a Nazi, a British agent or a Nazi for the British or a Brit for the Nazis, is still in the dark, and that makes for a good performance since in any thriller genre, a touch of mystery is needed to keep things fresh, and the subtle chase, following said character, on a windswept pace, leads to more of an action/adventure at the end, though a bit too little, too late.

As for direction, Carol Reed moves his chess pieces around nicely, including lovely first-billed Margaret Lockwood, who has to trust this dashing, talky mystery man to help her and her scientist father escape from the world-dominating villains, and there's more than a touch of dark humor being that NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH was made before World War II, right on the verge, in fact, of America's involvement, making this a journey on the edge that never goes full-out where it needs to be, not quite sure whether to satirize or despise the overall enemy. Had the same plot and, for the time, decent special effects occurred, say, in 1946, this might have been a lot stronger for the characters and audience alike. But what's there to experience is a decent visual page-turner; although it goes in one ear and out the other... The best thing about this TRAIN is the Criterion DVD cover, perhaps the best ever, ever, in their series consisting of some of the best artwork ever, ever created for collectors of vintage motion pictures.
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