(aka 'John Frankenheimer's The Train' or ' Le Train' or 'Il Treno')

Directed by John Frankenheimer
USA 19


Discount some self-conscious talk about Art as a national heritage, as well as clumsy dubbing of the supporting cast, and you have a rattling good thriller about a World War II German general (Scofield) determined to flee Paris just before the liberation with a trainload of Impressionist paintings. One obsession runs headlong into another as a French railway inspector (Lancaster), once unwillingly started out in opposition, finds he cannot stop, and must go on finding new ways and means of delaying the train for an hour here, a day there. In Frankenheimer's hands, the whole paraphernalia of trains, tracks and shunting yards acquires an almost hypnotic fascination as the screen becomes a giant chessboard on which huge metallic pawns are manoeuvred, probing for some fatal weakness but seemingly engaged in some deadly primeval struggle.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


Theatrical Release: September 22nd, 1964

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DVD Review: MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover


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The exact same The Train DVD is also available in The John Frankenheimer Collection along with The Manchurian Candidate The Young Savages and Ronin.


Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:13:36 
Video 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.74 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, French, None

Release Information:
Studio: MGM Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by John Frankenheimer
• Music-only track 

• Theatrical trailer

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 1999

Keep Case
Chapters: 32



Firstly, before I state how much I love this film, I'll explain why I am disgusted once again with MGM. Amazon shows this DVD came out in February 1999 (the VOB files are actually dated January 1999 - so we'll assume that date is accurate). It is dual-layered but non-anamorphic in the seemingly problematic, at the time, 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This was fairly common in the early days of DVD and the inclusion of a director commentary would have been a noted bonus. But 9 years later MGM have included this exact same disc (still not 16X9 enhanced!) in their new John Frankenheimer Collection. THIS FILM DESERVES BETTER. This was Frankenheimer's fourth out of five films with Burt Lancaster and the director is quite deft in his touches of building suspense with meticulous continuity detail and brilliant pacing. This is precision filmmaking that seemed ahead of its time. Lancaster is, as usual, excellent as the enigmatic protagonist - idealistic but not afraid to put himself on the line. The two made a great team. Powerful stuff.

It actually doesn't look too bad letterboxed (a few speckles and damage marks) but that really only means it would look about 30% superior if it was anamorphic. Perhaps the dual-layering benefited the strong detail and contrast.  Anyway - it looks good but could have looked much better. I still find it hard to believe they would simply repackage this in a slim case without improving... after almost a decade! The audio is clean and clear and there are optional English or French subtitles available.

There is a commentary by Frankenheimer - but it has plenty of pauses as he lets the narrative run. He tends to narrate a bit and never really gets into the meat of the production details (he does mention some staging and dolly shooting quirks, depth of focus, black and white cinematography etc.). His voice is also quite low and sedate for a commentarist especially with the background audio of the film still running (it's almost like he's whispering). But when he does impart information it is usually very interesting. A fairly unique option is to play the 'music-only' track. The Maurice Jarre soundtrack is quite wonderful and very positively mentioned by Frankenheimer in his commentary. Also available is a theatrical trailer.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a magnificent film and it's a shame that it isn't released by a proper studio or DVD production house. If you don't have this then it might make sense to get the John Frankenheimer Collection as it also includes The Young Savages which is the only way to get that Frankenheimer with Lancaster production on DVD. It is still very discouraging to see MGM take advantage in this way. They obviously don't have much respect for what they produce or their customer base. 

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus


Subtitle Sample




Screen Captures














DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:

The exact same The Train DVD is also available in The John Frankenheimer Collection along with The Manchurian Candidate The Young Savages and Ronin.


Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC


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