Directed by John Frankenheimer
Starring Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau
The Train (1965) is a terrific action picture – and though it takes place in the later days of World War II, it’s not a war movie in the usual sense. It was shot on location in France, blowing up real stuff and wrecking real trains, with Burt Lancaster doing his own stunts.
Lancaster is a railroad worker and part of the French Resistance, near the end of the war in Europe, trying to keep the Nazis from leaving France with a train loaded with plundered artwork. He spends most of the film doing all he can to delay the train — knowing the Allies will arrive soon. Whether he’s wrecking trains, running around with a German MP 40 machine gun, or just standing around smoking, Lancaster is unbelievably cool in this movie.
Lancaster, Frankenheimer and The Train.
Arthur Penn was to direct, but he was fired after a few days. John Frankenheimer was brought in — and he stopped everything to rethink the picture a bit. As much as I like Arthur Penn, I think The Train was better suited to Frankenheimer. It’s a top-notch suspense film.
The B&W cinematography from Jean Tournier and Walter Wottitz is really something — so is the editing by David Bretherton. If the Kino Lorber Blu-Ray (coming in January) looks like the previous Twilight Time release, it’ll be stunning. Highly, highly recommended.
Directed by Edwin Sherin
Starring Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark, Jon Cypher, Barton Heyman, Richard Jordan, Frank Silvera, Hector Elizondo
Kino Lorber has announced that Valdez Is Coming (1971) is coming to Blu-Ray. It’s the second of three Westerns Burt Lancaster made in the early 70s, the other two being Lawman (1971) and Robert Aldrich’s Ulzana’s Raid (1972).
It’s based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, and at one point there was talk of Marlon Brando playing Valdez, Lancaster taking the part that went to Jon Cypher and Sydney Pollack directing. What a different movie that would’ve been.
No details from Kino Lorber yet, and the release date is simply later this year.
Directed by Sidney Pollack
Starring Burt Lancaster, Peter Falk, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Patrick O’Neal, Scott Wilson, Tony Bill, Al Freeman, Jr., Bruce Dern, Michael Conrad
This is a weird movie, but I always liked it — thanks largely to Burt Lancaster and the terrific supporting cast (Peter Falk, Scott Wilson, Bruce Dern). Lancaster’s a one-eyed major whose company takes over a French castle toward the end of World War II.
The production had its woes, from unusually warm Yugoslavian temperatures that melted the snow and prompted the trees to sprout buds to trouble with pyrotechnics that meant sets had to be rebuilt. Hopefully some of that will be covered in the interviews and others supplements that are part of the upcoming Blu-Ray from Indicator/Powerhouse Films in the UK.
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Martin Balsam
Warner Archive has announced a summer Blu-Ray release of the John Frankenheimer suspense/paranoia classic Seven Days In May (1964) — with Burt Lancaster as a general leading a plot to overthrow the President (whose talks of disarmament has some in the military fearing a Russian attack). The cast is outstanding — Fredric March (as the President), Kirk Douglas (as a general who uncovers the plot), Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Martin Balsam, Andrew Duggan and on and on. Rod Serling’s script is a masterpiece — this is an idea that remains topical and will probably never be handled better.
Black and white really looks terrific in high definition, and director of photography Ellsworth Fredricks’ work here certainly deserves the boost in clarity. Good stuff.