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Plot: In Victorian England, a master criminal makes elaborate plans to steal a shipment of gold from a moving train. Runtime: 110 mins Release Date: 02 Feb 1979
Probably the most entertaining movie about this period of time. An accurate view of England in the middle of 19th century as well as a thrilling action/comedy. Do not forget to read Michael Crichton novel which is as good as the film.
"I wanted the money." (by dkncd)
"The Great Train Robbery" is based on a novel by Michael Crichton. It features the efforts of a band of three to rob gold kept in elaborate safes on a train leaving England to support the Crimean War. The film's costumes, elaborate sets and a score from Jerry Goldsmith are impeccable at creating a sense of Victorian England.Sean Connery is charming as Edward Pierce, who leads the robbers. Donald Sutherland has a memorable role as Robert Agar, a top-rate thief and accomplice to Pierce. Lesley-Anne Down plays Miriam, Pierce's enchanting female companion who has no scruples <more>
about using her womanly charms.The film follows the elaborate and interesting lengths that the gang must go to before they can even board the train. The elements of a great caper film are there: split-second decisions, tension and improvisations when plans go awry. The film also benefits from a lot of well-placed humor. "The Great Train Robbery" proves to remain interesting throughout the build up to and during the robbery.
Donald Sutherland's best corpse scene (by theowinthrop)
This is a fun movie, and I recommend it with only two reservations which I'll get back to. Sean Connery rarely is in historic costume films the only two that come to my mind was "The Red Tent" and the "Indian Jones" movie that he made, and they are set in fairly modern times - 1928 and the 1930s to be exact . He pulls off Edward Pierce with elegant aplomb, a brilliant and inventive gentleman thief who one roots for. Leslie-Anne Down is properly coquettish and sluttish when her goals require it. And Donald Sutherland is properly lovable as a successful pickpocket and <more>
thief I loved his snapping his knuckles to make his hands more limber who allies himself with Connery to carry off the theft. He also makes the most purple faced cholera corpse on film you have to be there to understand why . The sense of the film setting is good too, from the vintage 1850 train and carriages to the use of Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace in a scene. The original palace burned down in 1936, but the model although it looks like a model is a nice reminder of the time and place.Now my reservations: Michael Crichton's novel was an examination of the hypocrisy of Victorian England. Taking an actual 1855 robbery probably the first really great theft committed on a train - of gold bullion needed in for the Crimean War , Crichton examined the existence of the very rich and privileged and the very, very poor in the slums. He looked at bordellos that the rich frequented, or the public executions. Much of this is in the film. Downs repelling the advances of the fat bank official in the train is an example, as is the public execution of a poisoner - the chant the "good people" yell as the woman is hanged, "Oh my, I think I have to die" is an actual chant used by the public at those occasions. But Crichton also notes the irony of the way the public attack the train thieves while embracing the idiots running the Crimean War that the gold was for. In the novel Pierce brings up the murderous James Brudenell in court. He refers to Lord Cardigan, the fool who led the Charge of the Light Brigade. The court rebukes Pierce. That is not in the movie.Secondly, in reality Pierce was more villainous than the film and Connery makes him. We do see Connery's character strangle Willie, the human fly who he used to steal one of the keys he needs. But Willie had "peached" on Connery and the gang to the police. In the actual case Pierce had cheated several of the others in the division of the spoils. He was better covered when the prison sentences were handed out because he planned the crime, and the others performed it . The judge in the case, angry at how Pierce behaved, sentenced his one or two year sentence to solitary confinement - which is very hard on most prisoners. And he served the sentence - he did not escape the police as the film has it.Despite those reservations this is still a grand film to watch.
I like heist flicks, and this is the best I've seen so far. It's got great suspense as the crew of thieves led by the incomparable Sean Connery makes intricate plans and patiently prepares for the big day, changing and adapting the plan as needed to cope with unexpected obstacles. There is little in the way of sub-plots; virtually all of the action and plot is part of The Plan. The Victorian setting is great; you start to wonder where Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes is, and when he's going to catch these crooks. I'm a little puzzled by the category of <more>
"action/comedy." I'd say this was firmly in the "crime" category, and no other.9/10
SPOILERI think this film should be a classic. The story was very engaging at it moved along at a near perfect pace. Sutherland and Connery were very good together and I was rooting for them the whole time.I think that the big problem with this film that keeps it from being a classic film is the ending. Something much better could have been done rather then them just "getting away" in a very improbable event. I don't know what it could have been done, but it should have been done.
No Respectable Connery is THAT Respectable (by tom-darwin)
It was nearly certain that 1903's "The Great Train Robbery," popularly known as the first movie, would be remade in some form at some point. It's just fortunate that it turned out to be a clever, imaginative action/adventure rather than the dull-minded, big-budget exploitations we've had to endure in remakes & sequels in recent years. Conman and "cracksman" bank robber Edward Pierce aka John Sims Connery masquerades as a "sharp businessman" to enter a London gentleman's club and scope out a "ring-flash pull." He settles on the <more>
British Army's monthly payroll for the Crimean campaign, a shipment of solid gold sent in two special Chubb safes on a guarded railroad car. Much of the film is devoted to the collection of the four keys needed to open the two safes: two kept in a very secure railway office, one by "square-rigged" bank President Trent Webb and one by oversexed bank manager Fowler Terris . To do all this & the climactic robbery, Sims assembles a colorful crew: theater actress Miriam Down , who's also his mistress; pickpocket & "screwsman" Agar Sutherland ; driver & strong-arm Barlow Downing ; and "snakesman" Clean Willy Sleep, in a unique & outstanding role , who can reputedly climb "a wall of glass." Sutherland has one of his best roles as the gifted safecracker who's both deft and hilariously awkward. Down combines sexiness & funniness as well as Marilyn Monroe ever did & it's an injustice that no one else has ever said so. But there's no match for Connery in a role that was made for him: a charming, polished, gentleman rogue "No respectable gentleman is THAT respectable," he insists , as long on charisma as he is short on honor. Sims will resort to anything, even murder, to protect his interests & get what he wants, but it's impossible to hate him. Instead, Connery gives an outlet to the villain in each of us, the side that wants to stick it to the Man by robbing a bank or bamboozling the IRS, but can't be aired in real life by anything more dastardly than voting Mickey Mouse for President without fear of arrest. Prolific novelist and erstwhile doctor Crichton, in his first directorial effort, exercises firm control in bringing his own novel to the screen, seeming to know exactly what he wants to say & how to say it. Every time it seems that the film is about to lag, it somehow just picks up again--even at the very end--making it difficult to find a place to get a soda & popcorn refill or a bathroom break. Make your theater logistical arrangements carefully before setting out on this train.
With Mission Impossible like precision, Sean Connery, Lesley Anne Down, and Donald Sutherland pull off The First Great Train Robbery, years before Jesse James did it in the American West. Of course holding up a train with a dozen masked bandit confederates doesn't equal the near precision complexity that it took to steal gold bullion off a train by three men in stealth. Connery is the mastermind of the scheme and he plays Edward Pierce with the usual charm we've come to associate with Connery. It was interesting how Connery gets the idea for the heist in your typical Englishman's <more>
club with at least one of the responsible parties for the gold in that very room. The other club members know him as a retired industrialist who seems rather well fixed and comfortable. If they only knew the real source of his comfort.Lesley Anne Down may have given her career performance here as Connery's girl friend. Their scenes fairly crackle with witty repartee and sexual innuendo. Down is certainly not above using her sex to help in the robbery. In fact the first part of the plan which took about a year in preparation was to get duplicates of four keys that unlock the safe on the train where the bullion is transported. She compromises one of the key custodians in a Victorian bordello which is the film's humor highlight.Donald Sutherland is the safecracker friend of Connery's enlisted for the caper. He gets the dirtiest details of the caper. In fact the authorities get wind of some kind of plan in the works and Connery has to make some last minute adjustments to his plan. The adjustments call for Sutherland to get into the car in a coffin with a dead cat for odorous effect. What some won't do for money. Sutherland handles the whole thing quite well.Connery has the dangerous part of the caper which calls for him to go from front to back on a moving train. Those sequences according to the Films of Sean Connery were shot in Ireland which better represented the look of rural 1855 England. I was stunned to learn that Connery himself did the stunts. Sean admitted himself that it was the most dangerous business he ever undertook for any film. What some will do for the sake of art.The First Great Train Robbery is a stylish caper film set in Victorian Great Britain and the film really captures the look and manner of the period. One of Sean Connery's best films, definitely worth a look.
Nice Period Piece For A Heist Flick (by ccthemovieman-1)
Wow, this is a wonderfully-filmed movie that especially looked good since it was one of the first DVDs I purchased a decade ago. Rich colors and good period detail of 19th century England made it visually attractive. However, the picture was too grainy. I hope someone has re-issued this and given it the transfer it deserves.Beware that it takes quite awhile before the actual holdup takes place. This is almost a two-hour film and they build up slowly to famous heist. However, I didn't find any of it boring. This is rated PG but there are quite of bit of sexual innuendos early on by Connery <more>
as he woos Lesley-Ane Down. Other than that, it's a pretty tame film. Donald Sutherland adds a touch a touch of humor here and there as he and Connery pull off the suspenseful heist....and it is suspenseful.Connery trying to maneuver on top of the train was a highlight, as was the "whooshing" sound of the train each time it passed under a bridge. The stereo in here is very good for a film almost 30 years old.
A Very Arresting Comedy/Crime Caper (by Sonatine97)
Another fine performance from Connery in his attempt to move away from his cliched James Bond persona and expand on a wider variety of character roles.Based on a richly descriptive screenplay & textured direction, both by Critchton, we see Connery as a master criminal/gentleman attempt to steal gold from a moving train in Victorian England.Connery plays the role very much with a straight bat, perhaps a little too pompous & stiff but entertaining all the same.However, he is ably supported by fellow criminals Donald Sutherland with a rather thick & unforgiving Cockney accent and a <more>
rather angelic performance from Leley-Anne Down as Connery's love interest.Coupled with a some outstanding cinematography by Geff Unsworth, showing panoramic views of the English countryside, as well as superb set direction of a very realistic Victorian London, First Great Train Robbery is a treat to watch.Critchton's direction has never been better, although I feel the film is perhaps 10 or 15 minutes overlong. But he never lets the pace flounder, and neither does he let the Connery-Down love interest suffocate or distract from the overall plot.However, the characterisation for the main leads is a bit shallow & clumbsy. Connery is very much at home as Edward Pierce, the well respect city gent & playboy. In essence, not all that different from his James Bond character, although in this film he is given enough invention & ad-lib to make the character more rounded than the rather one-dimensional Bond.Sutherland, offers the comic-relief, the working-class foil to Connery's respected gent, and he plays it very well, apart from the rather hammy English accent.Obviously the most memorable scenes are with Connery risking his own life as he hops along the tops of carriages of a steam train as it winds its way through the English countryside on its way to Folkstone. I must admit to being totally gobsmacked at how close Connery was to being decapitated from those very low bridges the train went under. But I guess its testiment to Connery's great interest in the movie that he allowed himself to take on such risk.The ending is perhaps too contrived and perhaps blemishes the movie as a whole. But don't let this stop you. Overall, this is a fine film and a very funny film, and is definitely an under-rated Connery role that deserved more praise than it received on original release.****/*****