The Great Train Robbery

It is still early days in the ‘Because I watched…’ feature so I am not going to be getting up a full head of steam until a few more random Netflix reviews are under my belt, but nevertheless this week saw the turn of Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery, a loosely fact based crime caper.

In my many hours spent browsing the Netflix library I have come across this film before but never really had the courage to take it on, not really knowing what to expect. But that is the point of this experiment, to watch and bring you reviews of films that aren’t necessarily at the top of your ‘to-watch’ list or mine for that matter.

The Great Train Robbery, as it is in America, (The First Great Train Robbery, UK) is a lighthearted sunday afternoon crime caper that chronicles the daring attempt to rob a moving train of £25,000 worth of gold bullion. Obviously back in 1854 that was an awful lot of money so this was serious business. However, in true caper tradition there were elements of humour and adventure that set it apart from modern crime thrillers such as Inception even if wikipedia seems to think they fall under the same category.

Sean Connery plays Edward Pierce, on the surface a seemingly fitting gentleman for any woman and a sophisticated businessman on good terms with London’s financial elite. But underneath his mask he is a master thief with his eyes set on the ‘impossible’ job to steal from a moving train. With a number of security measures in place to ensure that stealing the gold is impossible, most notably the small matter of locating and copying four separate chubb keys, Pierce sets about organising a team to take on the job. Robert Agar (Donald Sutherland) is Pierce’s screwsman, a man entrusted with the nerve-racking task of imprinting the keys. The rest of the team consists of Pierce’s mistress Miriam (Lesley-Anne Down) and his driver Barlow (George Downing). A couple more members join the team to pull off both the preparations and the job itself.

This film is simple honest good fun, not something I would necessarily watch again but I was entertained from start to finish and some of the scenes are constructed brilliantly. There are some obvious flaws, using electricity to power lights instead of gas lamps but the authenticity isn’t something to dwell on. If a major studio was to buy the rights and remake this film it probably wouldn’t be made in the same way. It may stick to the story written by Michael Crichton but it wouldn’t have the same lightheartedness and it most certainly wouldn’t include the out of place sexual inuendo that occurs more often that I would like to admit.

If it is ever on TV on a Sunday afternoon and you have nothing to do it wouldn’t hurt to give this one a go so I would Recommend it for nothing more than its entertainment value.

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