All a Board………………….
There seems to be a theme this month from Twilight Time…. the Train.
The Train (1964) / Runaway Train (1985) / Boxcar Bertha (1962)
Company Twilight Time
Runaway Train: Starring: Jon Voight, Rebecca De Mornay, Eric Roberts, Kyle T. Heffner, John P. Ryan, T.K. Carter, Kenneth McMillan
The Train: Starring: Suzanne Flon, Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau, Michel Simon, Wolfgang Preiss, Richard Munch
Boxcar Bertha: Starring: David Carradine, Barbara Hershey, Barry Primus, Bernie Casey, Victor Argo, John Carradine
My Review and Thoughts:
First Up: The Train
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Icon and cinema legend Burt Lancaster stars in this film. Lancaster is a master at performance. He starred in one of my favorite films Birdman of Alcatraz which might I add Twilight Time has also released on a Special Edition Blu-ray and you can read my review HERE. Before the shooting of the Birdman of Alcatraz film, he sat down and talked with the true life Birdman, Stroud, to me that shows you the mastery this actor had for creating memorable characters throughout his long career. Lancaster does a fantastic job in anything he does but I felt the Stroud character was his defining role. He is a legend and a true one of a kind acting master that never grows old in the viewer’s mind as you experience any of his films. The Train and Birdman of Alcatraz are both defining roles that stand out, and both have always been two of my favorite performances, and most of all two of the great characters in cinema. I just recently watched him in the classic Documentary Series The Unknown War. He hosted this series of World War 2 Russian Front War Footage. He was a dynamic actor that gave so many amazing pieces of cinematic film for all generations. From the amazing 1960’s Elmer Gentry, which won him his Oscar, to as I have mentioned, 1962’s The Birdman of Alcatraz. All one has to do is scan his amazing career, 1946’s The Killers, 1953’s From Here to Eternity, 1957’s Sweet Smell of Success, one of my personal favorites Judgement at Nuremberg which has also been a Twilight Time release, you can read my review HERE. Lancaster had an amazing career of films lasting over 45 years of entertainment.
Also starring the beautiful, stunning, gorgeous and striking goddess of film, Jeanne Moreau. Multi-talented award winning actress of perfection. She owns her parts in everything she has ever down. Her character of Christine in The Train is one of those wonderful roles. She acted a total of three times with director Francois Truffaut, one of my favorite directors of all time. Twilight Time has released many of Truffaut’s films, and also those starring Jeanne Moreau. This goddess of cinema received in 1998 the American Academy Award of Motion Pictures life time tribute award. She is often thought of as being one of the greatest actress’ to ever grace cinema, and I agree one hundred percent. She is not only known as the French acting goddess, but also as a singer, screenwriter, and director. She is what cinema history is about. A perfected actress that shines in the memory of any true movie lover.
But the man that owns and displays the most important character, is the spectacular Paul Scofield. What I find interesting, and somewhat heartbreaking, is that he only acted in a little over 40 performances. His excellence in performing is beyond words. It surprises me he did not act in a lot of films. Paul Scofield was a dynamic performer that created so many lasting characters. He gave the total control of any performance he did. He was, and is the very pivotal reality of what performing, as an actor is about. He was a sophisticated actor. A true stage performer. A man who was able to bring the characters to life in breathable reality, his acting was so good that the fiction being filmed in his movies, always seemed honest and real. The character of Col. Franz von Waldheim in The Train displays that truth. Scofield gives his all to the many parts in his career, and his part of Col. Franz von Waldheim is one of his greatest performances of all time.
Keep an eye out for actor Donald O’Brien playing the part of Schwartz. This French actor is an often overlooked master of film and television. He is one of those actors that true movie lovers will notice his face from, his name might not be a house hold name, but his performances are ones to pinpoint. Now I personally know him from his countless Cult Classic Drive-In films of the Spaghetti western nature. From 1968’s Run, Man, Run. A personal favorite of mine 1975’s Four of the Apocalypse directed by one of my favorite Horror directors of all time, Italian Gore-father Lucio Fulci. 1976’s Keoma, 1977’s Mannaja, 1978’s Silver Saddle. O’Brien is a total bad ass star of many Cult style films. He was a master in the grindhouse style of films. He shinned in many memorable rolls, and his part in Zombie Holocaust a.k.a. Doctor Butcher is a prime example of one of those roles you will remember after seeing it. He starred in so many Cult films from Warriors of the Year 2072, 2020 Texas Gladiators, Ghosthouse. Just a perfect example of a character actor.
Also keep an eye out for Howard Vernon another actor that shinned in the Cult Drive-In style film. From such classics as 1961’s The Awful Dr. Orloff, 1965’s The Diabolical Dr. Z, 1967’s Succubus, 1968’s Marquis de Sade’s Justine, 1968’s The Witch Killer of Blackmoor, 1971’s A Virgin Among the Living Dead, 1971’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein, 1972’s The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, 1972’s The Demons, and so many more Drive-In classics. But the Cult films where not the only films he starred in, but also apart of very important film's of cinematic history such as, 1965’s Alphaville, Woody Allen’s 1975’s Love and Death, 1991’s Delicatessen. His ability to play a vast array of characters was what made him a unique genius in film history.
The films plot is about a French Resistance member named Paul Labiche played wonderfully by Lancaster. His fight is against the German Nazi Colonel Franz von Waldheim who is moving stolen artwork. Amazing masterpieces are being stolen and sent to Germany. Paul works his ultimate actions, to halt and delay, and to cause problems with The Train, in hopes to save the masterpieces from Nazi gain and rule. Now what is so great about the film is that the movie is based on actual events. Based from the 1961 book Le front de l’art by Rose Valland. Now there are major change's in the real truth. There was no massive action in stopping the train with force or action packed moments. In real life the French Resistance went about fighting the train from leaving by paperwork. It’s based on train No. 40,044. Lt. Alexander Rosenberg of the Free French resistance came across the train in August 1944 and witnessed the importance of the stolen artwork, and went about stopping and protecting the artwork.
Directed by the master of cinema that is truly one of the greatest directors of all time. His stamp on cinema, gifted with masterpiece worthy take on films, lingers on everything he displayed in his many movies. From the amazing Manchurian Candidate, Black Sunday, all the way to TV films such as Andersonville and Against the Wall. He was such a gifted performer that brought so much to cinema. I find what is so shocking and truly asinine is that he was never nominated for best Director. Birdman, Candidate, Black Sunday to me are all worthy for at least a nomination. All his films stand out and The Train is one of his defining achievements. He had his hits and misses like all directors do, but I think his hit’s out shine his misses. Sadly, this master of film is no longer with us which is sad because his films are worthy to watch over and over again. That’s the beauty of many of his films such as The Train, one can return to it over and over again, and enjoy it just like the first time seeing it.
The Train was nominated in 1965 for an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay. It also was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards. It also was honored by The New York Times Guide as one of the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made in the 2nd edition of the book which came out in 2004.
Up Next: Runaway Train
My Rating: 4 out of 5
This stars the amazing wonderful actor Jon Voight. He is a true acting Pioneer. He has always been a cinema figure to me throughout the movie world. Being in some of the greatest films of all time. He starred in my true personal favorite, Midnight Cowboy. He is truly a gifted actor and award worthy performer. Many of his films such as the wonderful amazing, awesome and disturbing Deliverance (1972), Coming Home (1978) which won him his Academy award for best actor, and his wonderful performance in 1979's The Champ. He is a master talent at acting. He also acted in the amazing Conrack which also was a Twilight Time Special Edition Blu-ray which you can read my review for HERE.
This has in honesty a wonderful cast. Each actor or actress create wonderful characters. The one of a kind Eric Roberts who has been a part of so many Cult following films. His passion for acting in my viewpoint always shines no matter how strange or over the top the performances are. Also starring the amazing Rebecca De Mornay who I feel personally never gets the stardom she deserves. Loved her in so many movies, one of my personal all time favorites, the suspense thriller 1992’s The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. The Hand that Rock the Cradle is a priceless film that never gets old. Also keep an eye out for many wonderful veteran performers of cinema both great and small. The one and only Don MacLauglin who many will remember as the character of Chris Hughes in the long running character on As the World Turns. The other amazing veteran actor Hank Worden. Worden was a master character actor that stared in more than 220 performances in his long career. Started acting in 1935 and continued to work up until 1991. He was a master performer both great and small. Always a constant performer. Most of the time un-credited and yet still maintains an importance to film. From 1948’s Red River, to 1948’s 3 Godfathers, 1956’s The Searchers, 1960’s The Alamo. 1963’s McLintock, 1984’s The Ice Pirates, and so many others. I personally will always remember him because of his simple small role in one of my all-time favorite TV series, the legendary, one of kind mastery of David Lynch’s masterpiece series, Twin Peaks.
Also in Runaway Train is the absolutely fabulous, and one of a kind star Kenneth McMillan. McMillan never got the stardom or the house hold name reality, although most will always recognize his face throughout his performing years. Sadly, he died at the young age of 56 but left the cinema world with countless memorable characters. Often a villain, and a true master of that style of acting. I will always remember him as the one and only character of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the one of a kind sci-fi masterpiece, David Lynch’s DUNE. Started working in 1969 and did so unto his death. Many times uncredited in film, but always a wonderful sideline actor and character actor. Another classic he starred in was 1979’s horror classic Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot as Constable Parkins Gillespie. Another defining character was Cressner in Stephen King’s 1985’s Cat’s Eye. I just love seeing him no matter what style his role.
Also keep an eye out for someone I have always felt never got the fandom or praise he deserved, and that’s Dennis Franz. Franz is an amazing performer, and so many of his role's no matter how small or large always ends up shinning. One of his movie’s was recently honored and brought out by Twilight Time on a Special Edition Blu-ray, the one of a kind American Buffalo which you can read my review for HERE.
Directed by a wonderful writer and director Andrey Konchalovskiy. I will always know him from directing a fun action packed film 1989’s Tango and Cash. He directed many in his native country of Russia. Also a writer of many films, he was an un-credited role of writer on one of the greatest WW2 drama’s that you will ever watch. The masterpiece 1962’s Ivan’s Childhood directed by possibly the greatest director of all time, or at least, he is in the top 10 greatest directors of all time, Andrei Tarkovsky.
Runaway Train is a perfected action adventure film that still maintains its performance today as it did when it came out. A wonderful choice for a special edition Blu-ray. Twilight Time choose perfectly for this release.
Up Next: Boxcar Bertha
My Rating: 3 out of 5
Directed by the genius and one-of-a-kind master of Cinema, or at least so many pieces of important Cinema, Martin Scorsese. This is his second feature and is somewhat an autobiography of the real life criminal Bertha Thompson. I should say loosely based on reality. Its more Hollywood fancy then actual fact. Martin Scorsese is a director I return to often. Specifically, his older work of the 70's to the middle 90's, which I personally think is his best. From the thrilling masterpiece Taxi Driver (1976), to the awesome true story sports drama Raging Bull (1980), to his amazing controversial 1988's masterpiece The Last Temptation of Christ. And most of all, his two crime films Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995) which are pure perfection. Shockingly he should have won the Academy Award for best director for any of those, but it would take all the way to 2006, before he was given this honor for his direction of The Departed.
The plot is very simple, your main character Bertha Thompson and Big Bill Shelly, are down on their luck. Lost in the south, lovers, robbing trains to make a living. Soon Bertha is accused of being a part of the murder of a wealthy gambler, both Bertha and Big Bill Shelley end up becoming fugitives running from the law.
Starring the one and only Barbara Hershey. Hershey is one of those female actresses that transcend characters. I feel she's one of those actresses that deserve to be a household name and respected for her many years throughout her career of creating interesting and thought-provoking, unique characters in her own style, which is a one of a kind experience of perfection. I have loved her my whole life. From 1982's haunting The Entity, and the masterpiece 1988's The Last Temptation of Christ. Started acting in 1966 and still going strong today. Over 100 performances.
This has a lovely cast of wonderful actors and actresses. Also starring the dynamic cult status actor David Carradine. I still can’t believe he is no longer with us. He was an actor that always had a certain way about bringing his characters to life. Carradine is flawless in creating memorable characters. He brings his master talent to the character he plays in Boxcar Bertha, Big Bill Shelly. He crafts his expertise in performance and shines in that performance as he always tended to do. What's so amazing about this movie is this also star's David Carradine's daddy, the icon of cult status, John Carradine. John was a pivotal part of my childhood. He was a part of so many drive-in B-glories. Over 350 performances in his long amazing, wild, and weird career. Started acting in film in 1930 and did so until his death in 1988, and in reality even after his death. Many movies had been made and came out all the way up until 1995. From many un-credited roles, to small cameo roles, to character acting, and starring. From 1939'a Jesse James as the character Bob Ford. Old Tom in Johnny Guitar (1954), to Casey in the classic The Grapes of Wrath. The Ten Commandments (1956), Around the World in 80 Days (1956). To the many wonderful B-movies that I know him from, Revenge of the Zombies (1943), The Black Sleep (1956), Half Human (1958), The Cosmic Man (1959), Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966), The Astro-Zombies (1968), Bigfoot (1970), Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972), The House of Seven Corpses (1974), The Sentinel (1977), Shock Waves (1977), The Howling (1981), The Ice Pirates (1984) and countless upon countless others. Another awesome reality is that he was involved with many of the Universal Monster films such as, The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man's Revenge, The Mummy's Ghost, House of Frankenstein and the House of Dracula.
Boxcar Bertha is loosely based on the book, Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha written by Ben Lewis Reitman. It came out in 1937 and like I have said its more or less a fictional telling. It's really wonderful seeing this second feature, of a brilliant director, on a high quality Blu-ray. It deserves to be remembered, and restored for a modern generation of film buffs. Twilight Time has done that with this wonderful high-definition 1080p transfer, restored beautiful.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Yet again all three are fantastic experiences. The audio and video on each one is crystal clear. The clarity of picture quality is amazing. The Black and White of The Train is smooth and textured flawless. The color of Runaway Train and Boxcar Bertha is vibrant and crisp. Audio is spot on in all three. The high definition transfer of all three make the films look all the more new, fresh and perfect. This is a great treat of three separate films for the new generation of cinema lovers, and perfect for the older generation of film lovers. I have seen all three of these movie’s so many times, and yet they are always a perfect action packed, drama induced thrill ride through moments of perfect cinema. Lovely audio and video. Perfection as always.
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.66:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1964 / B&W
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1985 / Color
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1972 / Color
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Isolated Score Track: This is by another music master behind this film, Maurice Jarre. This is another high quality extra feature. I really love when Twilight Time is able to add this feature for the simple fact, music is important in film. It drives the reality of the film. It brings out the emotions and changing of the situations. Plus, I am a huge music fan. Equally huge is my love for movie soundtracks. So Twilight Time gives me the best of both worlds.
Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo, Paul Seydor, and Nick Redman. A wonderful commentary by three perfected film historians. I always love listening to those who enjoy film, respect film and look at film as a historical art-form. A spot on listen for any lover of cinema. A great commentary on a great film.
Audio Commentary with Director John Frankenheimer. Another wonderful commentary hearing from the man, the guru of filmmaking. It’s always wonderful hearing from those involved with the making of the film, talk about and discuss the creation of the film. A great listen. Frankenheimer was a pure genius.
Original Theatrical Trailer
My Rating: 3 out of 5
Isolated Score Track: Amazing feature as always. The music is done by a music master, Trevor Jones. A wonderful composer and conductor in the Film Score reality. He has mastered many great film scores. Trevor Jones music is filled with such amazing emotional depth, that it lingers long after the film. Trevor Jones has done some of the great films in cinema, supplying the original score for 1981’s Excalibur. The unique and odd horror film, 1982’s The Sender. The one and only, amazing, brilliant and pivotal part of my childhood, the spectacular, magical and fantasy weaved, 1982’s The Dark Crystal. The wonderful 1984 mini-series The Last Days of Pompeii. From both small screen, to large screen, he has graced the cinema world with a wonderful array of passionate sounds, music that digs deep into your soul, and mind, and tells you a story. I can sit here and mention movie after movie that he has done, for he is a master talent that bleeds the art-form of crafting a story around his music. His music tells the ultimate emotional understanding of films, and the Runaway Train and the other Twilight Time film releases that Trevor Jones was involved with such as, Mississippi Burning which you can read my review for HERE, Richard III which you can read my review for HERE. Mississippi Burning is one of his defining achievements in film score. Alan Parker directed Mississippi Burning, he also has worked on another Alan Parker film, Angel Heart.
Commentary with Actor Eric Roberts, and Film Historians David Del Valle and C. Courtney Joyner. This is a wonderful commentary. Hearing actor Eric Roberts talk about the film was priceless. Also the two film historians Del Valle and Joyner are equally important.
Original Theatrical Trailer
My Rating: 2 out of 5
Isolated Music: Composing the music for Boxcar Bertha is Gib Guilbeau a.k.a. Floyd August "Gib" Guilbeau. Gib was a Cajun Country rock, folk rock Americana musician. He was pure perfection in his field. In the 1960's Gib formed the group, The Four Young Men with guitarist Wayne Moore. Soon musician Bobby Edwards became a part of the group changing the name to Bobby Edwards & the Four Young Men. There the group would create the song " You're the Reason". Which became a huge hit all across the country, number four on the country charts, and number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. It just shows you how important this person in the music world was. Sadly, you don't hear much of this gifted musician. Gib should be one of those performers mentioned when great music is being talked about. Sadly, so many important musicians, are lost or fade away by time, and that is truly a shame. I grew up in the south, Tennessee country boy. Grew up with all the old country acts. My mother's favorite music is country music, and so I know Gib's music. I've heard his music throughout my life. Most of all Gib's was a wonderful songwriter, and many popular singers have continued to record his music over the years including, Rod Stewart and Ricky Nelson and many others. Sadly, we lost this wonderful musician just this year in 2016. He passed away on April 12th, but left a vast array of wonderful music. It's great to hear his music on the soundtrack to Boxcar Bertha. Twilight Time honored his memory with this wonderful special feature. What people should really remember him for, is he took and helped pioneer the reality of Rock music, mixing with country. He was one of the first to start this movement all the way back in 1960. Now the second musician in the soundtrack is Thad Maxwell. Gib and Maxwell where a part of the group Swampwater. Interesting to know is the group Swampwater was the backup group for Linda Ronstadt before she went solo. After touring with Linda, they would join up with the wonderful songwriter and folk singer Arlo Guthrie. They released albums and toured the country. Both Maxwell and Gib are brilliant musicians that showcase pure music history.
Original Theatrical Trailer
You also get for all three films, the wonderful Booklet inserts. A great analysis of the films. All three are well written as always. Always by the wonderful film historian, knowledgeable in cinema history Julia Kirgo.
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, it’s time once again to come aboard the cinema train. A wonderful triple threat of pure cinema perfection. A great way to enjoy these movies is like I did, a theme movie marathon, this set of Twilight Time Special Edition Blu-ray’s are pure perfection. All three are great watches in there own ways.
Perfect audio and video transfers. Wonderful high quality special editions in High Defination. Twilight Time always amazes me with the care they put into there products, and The Train, Runaway Train and Boxcar Bertha is prime examples of that perfected care that is Twilight Time.
Make sure you head over to www.screenarchives.com to buy all the wonderful Twilight Time Blu-rays. The main page that gives you these beautiful releases on top quality Special Editions.
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