Starring Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau, Michel Simon, Wolfgang Preiss, Charles Millot
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Music by Maurice Jarre
Feature Film: 133 minutes
A fictional story that has its' roots in the real story by Rose Valland - "La Front de l'art". It tells the story of a train load of French paintings that a German officer is trying to ship to Germany in the last days of the occupation of Paris. With the Allies just days away, the lady who was curator of the museum where the paintings had been stored goes to a local resistance group for help. The goal - to keep the train from going to Germany. However, railroad resistance leader and manager of the train yards Labiche (Burt Lancaster) feels that it is not worth risking the lives of his last two engineers on a seemingly hopeless mission to save some art. Circumstances (and the actions of an old engineer who is his friend) lead him to changing his mind and the three men embark on the last mission of their group. Labiche must outwit and outmaneuver the one-track minded German officer (Paul Scofield) who is determined to get his art into Germany at any cost.
Burt Lancaster went golfing during filming and wrenched an old knee injury when he stepped in a hole. They had to write in a scene in the film where Labiche gets injured in the leg, as Burt Lancaster was limping so badly. It really tells during the last sequence and you can see his limp get worse and worse until he is practically dragging his leg. Ah, well . . . as the saying goes - "pain is temporary, film is forever".
The DVD is an early transfer and the film and soundtrack are not very restored. The film ratio is an odd widescreen that is slightly taller than the standard 16:9. However, you can watch it zoomed on the screen and not loose anything. The DVD outputs a 4:3 signal, resulting in the need to choose the zoom setting on the TV screen. It does come with the original theatrical trailer and a music-only track. This would be a movie that would definitely benefit from a bit of restoration and a new digital release. However, the film is so worth watching, it is fabulous that it was released on disc at all! Click the case photo to go to Amazon.com.