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  • I disagree with the user who commented that these two fine characters are a couple of "English Dolts". English they most certainly are and that is the point. Dolts they are most certainly not. The writer uses them as comic relief and to parody the British Middle and Upper Class mentality that ignored Facisim in Europe for so long. Their preoccupation with cricket, tennis and golf is but a tool. Mistaking "Mein Kampf" for a marital aid is both a joke and a jab at English ignorance of matters concerning the Continent. One can almost here them make that classic comment attributed to another Englishman; "the Wogs begin at Calais." Their bumbling actions are an example of English self deprecating humor. I have enjoyed these two characters in a number of films and only wish they had appeared in more.
  • Carol Reed, a film craftsman of the highest order, directed this wartime spy-thriller. Though it may feel routine, there are individual scenes and performers who remain vivid: the egoism of Rex Harrison's British agent; the vulnerability of Margaret Lockwood's wartime refugee; the naked sensitivity of Paul Henreid's villain. All in all, an interesting romantic triangle. The story chronicles events leading up to September 3, 1939 - the day France and England declared war on Germany after Panzers and Stukas invaded Poland.

    "Night Train" actually opens in '38, however, as the camera tracks into Hitler's mountain retreat over Berchtesgaden, as we witness the dictator ordering the Czech occupation. Hitler desires not only territory, but the talented scientists within - geniuses such as Axel Bomasch, an industrial wizard who just barely escapes the S.S. and flies safely to England, where he is safeguarded by a British Intelligence officer, code name "Gus Bennett" (Harrison). However, Bomasch's daughter, Anna (Ms. Lockwood), is caught and imprisoned in a Nazi concentration-camp where she befriends fellow inmate Karl Marsen (Henreid). They both successfully escape and sail a tramp steamer for England: Anna, to re-unite with her father; and Marsen, to make contact with those who share his real allegiance - to the Third Reich. With the help of an oculist (Felix Aylmer), planted in England years before by the Abwehr, Marsen abducts both Bomasch and Anna, who are transported to Berlin. Bennett, angry at his own lapse in security, volunteers to travel to Germany disguised as an officer of Hitler's High Command in order to retrieve the pair.

    The film then accelerates into a series of tense confrontations between Bennett and those he hopes to dupe, in both Berlin and on a train to Munich. The action culminates in a skillfully directed chase scene climaxing on the Swiss border, where the term "cliff- hanger" takes on literal meaning. Along the way, there appear various secondary characters - the 'team' of Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, for example, are thrown in for their droll, underplaying of some cleverly written dialogue ("No copies of Punch?! Hmmm. Must have sold out."). But the real comic relief is provided by Irene Handl as a German stationmaster who, in one scene, brushes off the "gentlemen," Radford and Wayne, like so much confetti. Her scene-stealing marks the highest moment of levity in the film.

    The one element in Carol Reed's storytelling that always distinguished him as a director was a quality he shared with Jean Renoir - the generous feeling he conveyed toward all of his characters. Human flaws and defects such as professional incompetence and blind allegiance are noted but tolerated. The rigid bureaucracy of a dictatorial government is deftly satirized in the character of a German civil servant (Raymond Huntley) who, when confronted with a forged document that escaped his notice, is asked by his Nazi superiors if he knows what this will mean for him. The bureaucrat politely replies, "Yes. It means I shall have to sack my secretary."

    And in "Night Train's" final frame, we observe Henreid's Nazi, jilted in more ways than one; yet Reed frames him sorrowfully, as if he were a sort of Universal Everyloser. Reed's sympathy, again, extends to all. Such unusual compassion on the part of a director is what finally separates "Night Train" from other propaganda films of the early Forties.
  • "Night Train to Munich" is a rather conscious attempt by director Carol Reed to imitate the style of Alfred Hitchcock, and it succeeds much better than do most such movies. It is an entertaining blend of suspense and humor, with a good cast and some enjoyable scenes.

    Margaret Lockwood stars as the daughter of a Czech scientist pursued by the Nazis. She escapes their clutches once, but is again captured, and a British spy (Rex Harrison) has to go undercover to try to save her and her father. Lockwood and Harrison are joined by Paul Henreid, and also by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, who had appeared with Lockwood in Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" and appear here playing the same humorous pair of English travelers.

    There are a lot of action sequences and a couple of good twists, with the crucial action taking place on a train. It's all done nicely, with an exciting finale as well. Some parts of it may be rather implausible, but the same could have been said of a few of Hitchcock's films, and this is only slightly less polished than his are. "Night Train to Munich" is quite entertaining in its own right, and is definitely worth seeing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The French are ardently patriotic; the Germans swell with tender pride; the Americans get earnest and emotional; but surely only the English can ever have acquired the idiosyncratic habit of making propaganda by raising a laugh at our own expense? It's a trait that, I suspect, may well leave other nations mystified; but it is this sting of self-deprecating irony that leavens the best of British war films and is characteristic of its era. Coincidentally, it also helps to make them notable long after the event, where more conventional propaganda tends to become ponderous and slightly embarrassing. Englishmen of a certain class have always made a virtue of never taking anything quite seriously -- and so, in lieu of John-Wayne-style heroics, we have Leslie Howard or Rex Harrison serving King and Country under the mask of the charming, seemingly-incompetent amateur.

    In Night Train to Munich, Charters and Caldicott illustrate perhaps the epitome of English humour at its own expense -- as caricatures they could almost have stepped out of propaganda for the other side. We are intended to laugh at them, and we do. But they represent also all the dogged and prized eccentricity of the nation, a red rag in the face of Nazi efficiency and uniformity. They are insular and sport-obsessed, far more interested in their own affairs than in interfering with the rest of the world: but by jingo, if they do--!

    As a comedy-thriller "Night Train to Munich" went down very well at the National Film Theatre, and I was very glad to have caught the final screening of the season after missing them all when it played here last year. I did feel that the comedy elements were ultimately more successful than the pure action sequences, though. Given the constraints of wartime filming it suffers understandably from an absence of location shooting and some rather obvious model-work, and the big battle at the finale is riddled with unintentionally comic clichés, such as the revolver that fires dozens of shots without reloading only to come up suddenly empty for dramatic convenience, the enemies who couldn't hit the proverbial barn-door with a rifle while the hero is unfailingly accurate with a hand-gun, and a crippling wound that is conveniently forgotten when it comes to mid-air acrobatics. The beginning of the film also features one of the most bizarre episodes of would-be brutality that I've ever encountered -- presumably censored for audience sensibilities -- where a concentration camp inmate is apparently being savagely beaten by a guard, but the sound effects attached suggest something more along the lines of a petulant tapping with a fly-whisk!

    Watching Rex Harrison infiltrate Nazi Germany armed with nothing more than supreme impudence and a monocle, on the other hand, is pure unalloyed delight, as are his undercover scenes in England as he endeavours to hawk popular songs by means of persistent performance. His double-act with Margaret Lockwood as they portray the warring couple who inevitably end up united is both amusing and genuinely credible: the film admirably refrains from underlining the moment when she -- and the audience -- realise that she really does care for him. And, as always with actors originally recognised from performances in middle age, he comes across as amazingly young and debonair, and yet still unmistakably Rex Harrison -- a slightly disorienting experience!

    The real disorientation, however, comes from the casting of Paul Henreid in the rival role of Karl Marsen, the Nazi intelligence agent, a coup that becomes quite unintendedly effective from his subsequent Hollywood career featuring parts as romantic leads. Given that I'd last seen him as sensitive confidant of Bette Davis in "Now, Voyager", I instinctively assumed that his clean-cut Czech resister was to be the hero of the piece, and the role reversal took me as completely by surprise as could have been hoped for. But the character remains an oddly sympathetic one -- indeed, the Germans in general are depicted as harassed human beings rather than monsters -- and it is hard not to empathize with him as he watches his 'womanising' rival supposedly sweep the girl they both love off her feet. In the final scenes, as he lies wounded in the path of the returning cable car, I found myself frankly terrified on his behalf that the action clichés would culminate in Karl's death crushed beneath the cabin that has carried his rival to safety, and surprised and relieved when he was allowed -- albeit bereft -- to survive the battle.

    "Night Train to Munich" is probably most effective when it is at its most flippant, whether at the English or German expense, and at its most formulaic where it tries to be 'serious'. But it has moments of genuine tension and feeling and is a fast-moving, entertaining picture. It's a long time since I saw "The Lady Vanishes" -- of which this is often cited as a pale shadow -- and the Hitchcock production doesn't seem to have left much impression on me over the intervening years; but I thoroughly enjoyed "Night Train to Munich", for all its flaws, and remain impressed by its sheer sangfroid as a wartime morale-raiser.
  • An intrepid British spy boards the NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH in a desperate attempt to rescue a scientist & his beautiful daughter from the Nazis.

    Here is an excellent wartime thriller, with just the right amount of puckish humor to keep the film from becoming too heavy. Very fine acting & excellent production values add tremendously to the success of the film, with director Sir Carol Reed showing hints of the style which would distinguish his postwar crime classic, THE THIRD MAN, a decade hence.

    Margaret Lockwood is lovely, but she is given remarkably little to do outside of looking anxious or scared. Not to worry, the action is carried admirably by the male side of the cast, most notably Sir Rex Harrison as the British agent. Whether glibly singing silly songs or engaged in deadly gun battles in the Bavarian Alps, he carries off his role with his characteristic aplomb.

    Paul Henreid completes the quasi-romantic triangle. Menacing & sophisticated, he is an excellent example of Nazi determination & evil. Sir Felix Aylmer, very effectively playing against type, wraps his unique voice around the small part of a German spy master. Roland Culver, Torin Thatcher & Ian Fleming - the character actor, not the author - might be glimpsed in cameo roles.

    Fans of Sir Alfred Hitchcock's splendid THE LADY VANISHES (1938) will be heartened at seeing the return of the characters Charters & Caldicott, those criquet-mad twits, played by the original actors, Basil Radford & Naughton Wayne. Their initial performances had proved so successful that they were given the opportunity to reprise the roles several times, this being the most successful of their reappearances. Their inclusion here, about two-thirds into the story, gives the film a decided lift, making the whole procedure jolly good entertainment.
  • peacham22 September 1999
    Rex Harrison plays against type to great effect in Sir Carol Reed's NIGHT TRAIN. the atmospere of the film is suitable foggy and dismal and the screenplay keeps you on edge. Harrison demonstrates a keen sense of underplay that until this point he never had a chance to play on screen. A film to be savored.
  • This film was made at a point of frustration and fear for the British. They had bumbled into a frightening war against a truly evil foreign government, and had watched helplessly as their ally fell. It is a mark of the strength of British character that this movie was made, complete with a healthy dollop of comedy in it (including self-parody). Basically the film acknowledges the treachery and evil of the Nazis and their collaborators (Paul Henried here), and the failure of the British to successfully account for it in the period of Chamberlain's government (Baldwin's previous government had tried to counter it but faced overwhelming pacifist spirit in the Labor and Tory Parties). Rex Harrison (aided by Basil Radford and Naughton Wayne) represent the Britain that pulls itself together to use the same deceit to snatch back what was lost.

    As noted in several comments above, Radford and Wayne are Charters and Caldicott again, still traveling on continental trains, discussing cricket matches, and proving up to fighting the enemy if that enemy shows it's hands. Harrison looks almost dashing (complete with monocle) in his Nazi disguise outfit. He makes the comment about the Siegfried Line at one point...and nobody ever has explained it. The best single line belongs to Raymond Huntley, as a Nazi officer trying to understand whether the comment "This is a fine country we live in" was meant as a put down or not. After being left alone for a moment or two, he repeats it with different emphasis on "fine country". Then looking at the camera with complete honesty he says "This is a bloody awful country we live in." I am sure British audiences in 1940 fully agreed with Huntley.
  • jem13220 April 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    Starring Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison and Paul Henreid (billed as Paul von Hernreid), NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (also known simply as NIGHT TRAIN) is an thrilling, topical WW2 thriller directed by Carol Reed.

    Quick Plot Surmise: Lockwood is Anna Bomasch, a young Czech woman who escapes to England to join her father, a top Czech scientist, after Prague is seized by Nazi control. She is helped on her journey by a man she met in a concentration camp, Karl Marsen (Henreid). Anna, along with further help from British intelligence agent Harrison (masquerading as a song and dance man), rejoins her father yet is betrayed by Marsen, who is really a top Nazi official/spy. Anna and her father are then snatched back to Europe (Berlin) by the Nazis. It is up to Harrison, in the guise of a Nazi officer, to rescue the pair.

    This early Carol Reed film displays the European setting, concern with greater political issues and shadowy black-and-white cinematography that would populate his later 40's masterpieces, ODD MAN OUT and THE THIRD MAN. Lockwood is the first in a line of dark-haired heroines, with Alida Valli and Kathleen Ryan following in her footsteps.

    Henried gives a very memorable performance (in my opinion the film's best) as Marsen- this film would launch his Hollywood career. It is interesting to note that Henreid found stardom as a Gestapo agent- a role that would be dramatically reversed in his most famous character, the heroic Victor Laszlo, in CASABLANCA. Lockwood, the talented beauty of British cinema, does not have to stretch too many of her acting capabilities (and this girl had plenty) as Anna, yet she is a delightful, engaging presence and looks gorgeous. You'll fall in love with Lockwood in this one. Harrison, very early in his career, is charming, affable and occasionally roguish as the British intelligence officer, He is remarkably young and thin in this one, yet all the trademark Harrison qualities are there.

    Reed's NIGHT TO TRAIN TO MUNICH is an obvious attempt at a Hitchcockian thriller, yet it is a very good attempt that succeeds on most fronts. Clearly indebted to Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES, much of Reed's work in NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH has been borrowed from the earlier film. Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne return as the legendary cricket-buffs and occasional accidental-heroes Charters and Caldicott, who just manage to run into international intrigue on every train ride they embark on!

    Launder and Gilliat's script (they also did the script for THE LADY VANISHES-hence Charters and Caldicott having another outing here)is an excellent one, with the writing for the most part fresh, clever and witty. The train premise is, of course, borrowed from THE LADY VANISHES (note for the very Hitchcock-like cutting between the reactions of Lockwood, Harrison and Henreid), as is a tense eating scene aboard the train and a sexy, lingerie clad Lockwood being visited by a suitor in her hotel room, yet NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH manages to be unique all on it's own. The reason? Europe was very much in War by 1940, unlike THE LADY VANISHES, which is set in 1938. It is tense and thrilling because the real-life situation at the time of the film's release WAS tense and thrilling.

    I wonder how audiences would have received the film in it's day. Some scenes are actually still quite amazing in how far they go. The opening five minutes or so clearly uses stock footage, yet the rest is conceived just for the film. The sight of Charters attempting to read Hitler's tome Mein Kampf and remarking "It's not exactly Honeymoon material, is it?" and sagely quipping "I'm still in Hitler's boyhood" was probably quite daring back in the day. I also found a small moment with a Nazi officer quite memorable. When alone in a room (with his Fuhrer's picture facing toward him) he is heard to remark in a resigned, strangely sad voice "What a bloody awful country we live in".

    Definitely see this film. It's a top little gem.
  • Carol Reed directs this thriller in the Hitchcock tradition. A Czech scientist(James Harcourt)and his daughter(Margaret Lockwood)are pursued by Nazis. The pair escape to England, but Lockwood is captured and placed in a concentration camp in hopes of influencing her father to cooperate with the Germans. The lovely Lockwood escapes to rejoin her father only to have the pair kidnapped and taken back to Germany. A British agent(Rex Harrison)in disguise as a German officer infiltrates the German high command and tries to get the couple out of Germany by way of a night train to Munich. Nazi faithful Paul Henreid does his best to spoil the escape. My favorite scene involves the cable-car in the Swiss Alps. Harrison is outstanding. Supporting cast includes: Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, Roland Culver and Austin Trevor. The intelligent script is witty with room for a little deadpan humor.
  • A wonderful spy thriller, has Margaret Lockwood as Anna

    Bomasch, the daughter of a Czech scientist, who is whisked off to England for safety, when the

    Germans invade. Lockwood is imprisoned in a concentration

    camp. Later she meets up with Karl Marsen (Paul Henreid ) and

    they engineer an escape together and meet up with her father in

    England. When the Germans recapture them, Gus Bennett (Rex

    Harrison a M.I.5. agent) is assigned to bring them back. Lockwood and Harrison spark off each other wonderfully well, and

    in a small role is Irene Handl, but the film is almost stolen by Basil

    Radford, and Naunton Wayne, as the two cricket loving Englishmen, who were such a big hit in Hitchcock's ‘Lady

    Vanishes'. After seeing this film for the umpteenth time, it is every bit as good

    as ‘Lady Vanishes' and well worth recommending.
  • "Night Train to Munich" (1940) is a smaller and lighter Carol Reed film, a little uncharacteristic, but nevertheless very good. The stars are Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison, Paul von Henreid, Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne. A Czech scientist is taken to England for safety so the Nazis won't get him or his work when the Czechs invade, but his daughter Anna (Lockwood) is captured and sent to a concentration camp. While there, she meets Karl Marsen (Paul Henreid as Paul von Henreid) who recognizes one of the Nazi officers at the camp as someone he knew, and the man helps both of them to escape. Once in England, she contacts her father through a performer, Gus Bennett (Harrison), in reality a government agent. Unfortunately, she and her father again fall into enemy hands, and Randell disguises himself as a Nazi officer in order to return to them England.

    Very suspenseful with great chemistry between the two stars. What helps make this film, though, are Radford and Wayne of "The Lady Vanishes" fame, who are hilarious as two airhead train passengers, one of whom recognizes Harrison as British, though he's in Nazi regalia. The two were an extremely popular pair and appeared together in several films.

    Very good.
  • Carol Reed's wonderful and interesting style of suspenseful film (seen in all its glory in 'The Third Man') is evident in this early spy flick. Rex Reed is an OSS operative who must journey deep into the heart of the Third Reich to rescue an important scientist before the Nazis can make full use of him. The characters are not just two-dimensional although they may seem that way; they use every trick and opportunity to get through their sticky situation. The sudden appearance of two of the characters from Hitchcock's 'The Lady Vanishes' is a real treat, too!

    The story itself is very intricate, with crosses and double-crosses and random occurances causing problems in our hero's way. The film is successfully able to weave genius storytelling, great acting, and effective cinematography to make it an intriguing spy film that is surely ahead of its time! And the finale is certainly an indicator of what the James Bond films would bring us years later.

    Even though it was filmed in the beginning of WWII, it is not a stereotypical, or dull, film. A must-see!
  • Night Train to Munich (1940)

    This British movie was made in 1940 a year after German and Britain began WWII. It is set in the late summer of 1939, just as the declaration of war was on the horizon. And while the filming and post-production is going on, London is being bombed by the Nazi air force. (The film was released in December, several months after the first raids.)

    The most memorable lead is Rex Harrison playing an agent and double agent, falling in love with and saving the scientist's daughter (Margaret Lockwood) as well as the scientist himself (while he's at it). And then as a competing suitor, the dubiously aligned German officer played by Paul Henreid, who a year later would play a kind of counterpoint in the American Nazi film, "Casablanca."

    Director Carol Reed marshals all these forces and makes a surprisingly terrific movie. It's fast, smart, fanciful, and patriotic. It's also really really funny, and the more you catch the British humor the more you'll be glad--at times it's relentless even as its subtle. The little barbs against the Germans, both as German stereotypes and as Nazi buffoons, is highly calculated. The British come off as daring and dashing, even the bumbling travelers rise to the occasion. It's often been commented that Harrison makes a very fit precursor to James Bond, and there must be a backwards truth to that because Ian Fleming (who invented Bond) was a WWII British OSS worker. Art imitating life. Imitating art.

    And yes, this is an homage and reference (if not sequel) to Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes," including use of the same writers, the same kind of comic suspense, the same leading actress, and even two comic side characters from one train to the other. Reed even acknowledged the connections, as if he could deny them, and wanted no doubt to coattail some of the movies huge success.

    It taints a movie to call it propaganda, so I won't. It's not, really. What it does (just as "Casablanca" does) is strike one up for the good guys. You end the movie thinking the British might just win this thing. And at the time that wasn't a foregone conclusion--London was only sinking further into the terror of the Blitz. Of course, we know that British resolve and resourcefulness won the day, with a little outside help, and this is part of exactly that.

    Great stuff.
  • Carol Reed is a truly wonderful director, his CV boasts the likes of The Third Man, Oliver and Odd Man Out, all great films for sure, which only makes it more infuriating that a gem like Night Train To Munich is incredibly hard to get hold of. I have only managed to catch it myself because of the unearthing of VHS tapes long thought to have been lost years ago, and it's just like finding hidden treasure I can tell you! Based on a story by Gordon Wellesley, and scripted by the adroitly talented teaming of Sydney Gilliat and Frank Launder, Night Train To Munich is a lesson in how to not over blow your subject, all the sequences flow without boring the viewer, with Reed astutely approaching the material with subtlety instead of blunderbuss bluster.

    Another highlight of the movie to me is that it could have so easily been a propaganda bore, the Germans being the devil incarnate, but here it feels that an equality of characterisations was the order of the day - something that many other genre pieces lost sight of further down the line. Rex Harrison, Margaret Lockwood and Paul Henreid are all excellent here, whilst wonderful comedic relief comes courtesy of Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford's English cricketers (fans of The Lady Vanishes will identify right away). Although this picture is script driven above all else, the action sequences are a joy to behold, with the final third of the picture an unadulterated pleasure, spies and stooges, plants and treachery, oh it's all here folks, enjoy, if you can get a good print of it that is! 9/10
  • Just as Germany invades the Sudatenland, Czech engineer Axel Bomasch fearing he may have to work for the Nazi cause, flees to England, being separated from his daughter Anna (Margaret Lockwood) on the way. Anna is imprisoned in a concentration camp where she befriends Czech nationalist Karl Marsen (Paul Henreid), he helps her make her escape and flees with her to England where they meet up with her father. Almost immediately they are hoodwinked by German agents posing as British naval officers and are brought back to Germany where Bomasch's knowledge on armour plating will be used for the imminent war. A fearless Gus Bennett (Rex Harrison) endeavours to travel to Germany in disguise to recapture the Domasch's in a daring raid.

    After the success of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes(1938), screenplay writers Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder returned to very similar ground with Night Train to Munich, again we have Nazi's and spies in pre-war Germany, again we are on a perilous train journey and again Margaret Lockwood is the lead and we also have Naunton Wayne as Caldicott, Basil Radford as Charters reprising their roles as the amiable Cricket loving buffoons. Its not quite as polished as Hitch's film and it is a little heavy on the propaganda, Germans being dour martyrs to the cause, all the Brits being, chirpy "Mornin Govnor" types, but there's still plenty to enjoy, Rex Harrison's cocky Gus Bennett, in a series of disguises and treating us to some seaside numbers, Naunton and Wayne are comedic top form, the train scenes also have plenty of tension as we race to a heart stopping climax on a cable car.
  • Very good Rex Harrison and Margaret Lockwood vehicle at the dawn of World War 11.

    As Nazi Germany goes on the march against Austria, The Sudetenland and the rest of Czechoslovakia, a woman and her father prepare to flee the Czech country only for her to be imprisoned. The father, a scientist, is desired by the Nazis to work for them.

    While the father escapes, the daughter is trapped and imprisoned. There she meets Paul Henried, who comes to her aid to get her to England. What she doesn't know is that Henried is a Nazi official himself who wants Lockwood to lead him directly to her father.

    When this does happen, Lockwood, in England, had met secret agent Rex Harrison. Harrison goes to Germany disguised as a German army official trying to get Lockwood and her father out.

    The film is a good one as there are constant twists along the way. Naturally, Harrison is recognized by 2 British men in Germany, but luckily he was as they are later able to warn him that the Germans know what he is up to.

    The ending is an exciting chase scene as the trio flee to Switzerland via a ski lift with Henried and his men in hot pursuit.

    Surprisingly, the film has little violence.
  • Czech scientist James Harcourt has perfected a new kind of armor plating and right before Czechoslovakia is taken over, Harcourt is spirited away to Great Britain to continue his work. But the Nazis manage to grab his daughter Margaret Lockwood and toss her into a concentration camp.

    But that's only the beginning as fellow prisoner Paul Henreid figures out a way to escape and they both flee to Great Britain. But it was all a ruse so that the Nazis could recapture Harcourt and get him working for them before the shooting war starts.

    The guy who loses Harcourt to the Nazis, Rex Harrison is anxious to redeem himself so he goes to Germany in search of Harcourt and Lockwood with an elaborate ruse.

    At this point the film starts to look very suspiciously like The Lady Vanishes as Henreid and Harrison play a deadly cat and mouse game where the roles of cat and mouse seem to change. I'm sure that Alfred Hitchcock knew and approved of the homage Carol Reed was giving him.

    Otherwise there's no way that Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne to have done the same parts they did in The Lady Vanishes for Hitchcock. The two of them did get a lot of acclaim for their roles as a couple of Colonel Blimps on holiday who do in fact come through in the clutch.

    Because Carol Reed gets some good performances out of his cast a rather improbable tale is well handled for the screen.

    Though I do believe the Nazis did ultimately win this one because what Harcourt was working on was armor plating and the armor plating on their Panzer tanks was pretty darn impregnable to say the least.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, Margeret Lockwood, travels by train across an unnamed and supposedly 'fiticious' Bavarian country, came across some pretty nasty bad guys who surprisingly spoke with thick Bavarian accents and who all belonged to some sort of evil oppressive regime which had completely overrun our unnamed and supposedly 'fictitious' part of Bavaria.

    Any idea what country this was meant to be? Any idea who these evil swine were meant to be? Well unless your a bit dense, of course we do.

    However with Mr.Chamberlain still desperately trying to ensure 'Peace in our Time' across Europe, it would have been damned unsporting and deuced Un-English of us to have mentioned the fact in the film that this Bavarian hot spot was in fact Germany and the pretty nasty bad guys were in fact Nazi's working for the greater good of their Fuhrer.

    Carol Reed however rectified that problem good and hearty when the long expected war was finally declared by practically remaking the entire film. This time however this early form of political correctness was abolished as Reed openly brands and nationalises our 'Baddies of former suspect origin', and adds plenty more 'Boo Sucks to you Fritzy' to a scale that Alfred Hitchcock's peace-time effort could only hint at.

    Margeret Lockwood, who presumably not having learnt her lesson on the dangers and pit-falls of cross continental train travel in oppressive and dangerous locales, joins the fun again as Anna Bomasch the daughter of a Czech scientist trying to flee Germany by catching a Night Train to Munich with a British spy and half the German army.

    Rex Harrison, the least man you'd expect to portray a brave and dashing British spy, plays MI5 man Gus Bennett/Dickie Randall and he carries out his role admirably and turns in a good and sometimes witty performance.

    Paul Henreid billed here as Paul VON Henreid, plays Karl Marsen a die-hard Nazi who first meets Bomasch in a concentration camp. He has been planted their in order to befriend her and organise the escape which he hopes will eventually lead to her father, a scientific inventor who the Germans want to 'employ'

    Taken in by Marsen, they flee to England and find her father under the watchful eye of Dickie Randall, undercover as seaside song plugger Gus Bennett. However when Marsen shows his true colours and Bomasch and her father are kidnapped and return to Berlin, Randall must also venture into 'The Lions Den' in order to rectify his mistake and get them back.

    Posing as a high ranking German officer Randall's plan is to quickly make contact, make one quick car journey to an open field just outside town and return to England in time for tea and crumpets. His plans however, go disastrously wrong when the powers that be decide that Herr Bomasch and his daughter must be taken immediately to Munich on the 'Night Train'

    Randall now having pulled rank and influence in order to travel with them, must decide on his next move to get the Bomasch's out of Germany. This is not going to be easy, for travelling on the same train in escort is Marsen and a company of his stormtrooper buddies.

    Other veterans from The Lady Vanishes are Basil Radford and Naughton Wayne who reprise their roles from the Hitchcock movie as Charters and Caldicott, the two cricket obsessed English asses. To add an extra twist and a bit more suspense, it transpires that Caldicott is an old college friend of Randall who having recognising him could unwittingly give the game away at any moment.

    Although this is a great film in it's own right with suspense in all its forms and everything you would expect from a wartime thriller, comparisons between this and The Lady Vanishes are pretty hard to ignore.

    Don't get me wrong this is not an absolute remake of The Lady Vanishes as the stories are slightly different. Apart from the fact that the action takes place on a train filled with more than its fair share of goodies, baddies, and spies as it winds it's way through a hostile country carrying Miss Lockwood as a pretty but scared heroine in danger, Naughton Wayne and Basil Radford as Charters and Caldicott being all English and........

    .....okay forget it.......it IS a remake pretty much.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH is a classic old 1940s b&w wartime propaganda film. With its gentleman spy and genius scientist (with beautiful daughter) McGuffin it's gloriously old fashioned. The plot sees a Czech scientist and his daughter captured by the Nazis just before the outbreak of war with Poland (which will drag in Britain and France, and mark the true beginnings of WWII) who put them on a train to Munich with a villainous Gestapo officer. Thankfully, also on board is a British gentleman-spy (the old dapper fool routine) with plans to get them off. To add a little comedy, there's also a pair of British travellers who become so appalled by the pushiness and rudeness of the Germans that they decide to join in. The use of matte paintings, models and trick photography might put off younger viewers but it's charming and effective. Similarly, most of the action scenes have the combination of purity and artificiality of so many early films, with a gunfight on a gondola moving between two mountain peaks being both particularly unreal and charming. The dialogue is fast and humorous, especially around the (sorta) love triangle. Altogether, an afternoon delight.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an interesting and enjoyable war movie involving espionage, kidnapping and rescuing people in the early days of World War II. "Night Train to Munich" came out in August 1940 in Great Britain and in December in the U.S. Up to that time, the Allies had very little they could boast about to raise hopes and boost morale. The film setting is 1939 – at the official start of WW II when Germany invaded Poland (Sept 1, 1939). But, by the film's release date, Germany had since invaded Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium and the Netherlands; and, the Battle of Britain had begun in July of 1940.

    So, this film no doubt served as a morale booster at the time. While the Allies couldn't show much hope with battles being fought and won, they could make films about successes in spy and rescue events. While the story for this film is fictitious, there were many instances in which Allied and underground efforts helped people escape the Nazis. Early in the 1930s, British economist William Beveridge established the Academic Assistance Council that helped 1,500 Jewish and other academics escape Germany. Albert Einstein, John Maynard Keynes, Ernest Rutherford and others supported the group.

    This film has a fine cast, with Rex Harrison in the lead as Gus Bennett, a British secret service agent whose real name is Dickie Randall. Margaret Lockwood has the female lead as Anna Bomasch. The movie mixes some early witty dialog and humor with intrigue and suspense as Gus launches his rescue attempt to get Anna and her scientist father, Axel Bomasch (played by James Harcourt) out of Germany to Switzerland. This is just the second appearance of a comic duo who would go on to appear in a number of films with their dry humor. Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne are Charters and Caldicott, whom Gus enlists in his rescue effort. Paul Henreid plays a somewhat gentle yet nasty Nazi, Karl Marsen.

    While this is a very good movie, I found some things in it that were odd. First was the naiveté of Anna in her first escape to England with Karl. Why would she believe Karl that she needed to hide, and not go directly to British authorities to find her father? Second was her crass attitude toward Gus Bennett who had reunited her with her father. She was a Yugoslav refugee in Great Britain under the protection of the British government, yet she treated her protector with disdain. I think the comedy could have been greatly reworked here so that she doesn't come off as a nag and ungrateful complainer. Here are a couple examples of the comedy dialog between the two.

    Anna, "Nothing that happened to me in that concentration camp (in 1939, before she escaped the first time) was quite as dreadful as listening to you day after day singing those appalling songs." Gus, "With those few words, you've knocked the bottom out of my entire existence." Anna, "Pity I only knocked it."

    Anna, "You know, if a woman ever loved you like you love yourself, it would be one of the romances of history." Gus, "Since I'm unlikely to think of an adequate reply to that, I think we ought to drink a toast. England expects that every secret service man this night shall do his duty." He pulls the cork on a champagne bottle that doesn't pop. "Flat!"

    One quick scene I found very amusing was of a newsstand that had enlarged ad boards of Hitler's book, "Mein Kampf." In between them was an equally large ad board for Margaret Mitchell's novel, "Gone With the Wind."

    Finally, there was quite a lot wrong with the last scene and the escape over a cable car from Germany to Switzerland. When the Nazis arrived, bullets began to fly as Gus fends them off while the rest make the cable crossing. The distance had to be several hundred yards. The gun play reminded me of the "B" Westerns I went to as a kid growing up in the 1940s and 1950s. Those Western six-shooters often had a dozen or more bullets in them. In this film, Gus appears to have a 32-caliber or similar revolver. The Germans also have similar weapons. The IMDb "Goofs" section notes this. With the advantage of DVD, I could back up the film and count the gunshots. Gus fired his small revolver a full two dozen times. And, he and two Germans who had handguns fired them more than 60 times. There were no scenes of anyone reloading their weapons. Finally, Gus was quite the shooter. He appears to be 200 to 300 yards away when he shoots Karl. Most expert weapons sources say that the maximum effective range for any pistol is about 50 yards. Indeed, the military pistol qualifying range from standing is just 25 yards. The National Rifle Association expert firing distance is 25 feet from standing, using both hands.

    The silliness of these few instances detract somewhat from the film. Still, it is a very good movie overall, on a subject that later films during the war and after would explore in more detail. Rescuing scientists from the clutches of the Nazis makes interesting viewing -- especially if one doesn't have a big combat action movie to watch.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A very exciting (and, in 1940, very topical) WWII thriller directed by the great Carol Reed. British agent Rex Harrison attempts to smuggle scientist James Harcourt and daughter Margaret Lockwood out of Nazi Germany before Gestapo goon Paul Henreid (here billed as Von Henried) can turn them all over to headquarters. A suspenseful, highly enjoyable film thanks to the expert direction of Reed and a twisty script by Sidney Gilliat & Frank Launder. Harrison is terrific as he half jokes his way across enemy territory and Henreid is suitably nasty. The script re-introduces Charters & Caldicott from Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES and they're just as deceptively befuddled here. They're also a source of some pretty biting humor (directed, of course, at the Third Reich). Lockwood gives a gutsy performance and the script never allows her to be a mere damsel in distress. The film's ending is really something.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A Night Train to Munich is a light thriller and War time propaganda film. Scripted by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, it intentionally reminds the audience of their previous success, The Lady Vanishes: through the emphasis on the train journey in the title (in fact only one part of the story) and the inclusion of the comic English tourists Charters and Caldicott (Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne). The film starts much darker than the former film with the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Germany and the arrest of Anna Bomasch (Margaret Lockwood), the daughter of a famous scientist and specialist in armour plating. She is impounded in a concentration camp but escapes through the help of Karl Marsen (Paul Henreid). With the entry of Gus Bennett (Rex Harrison), a British agent, the film becomes lighter, the character fixed by Harrison's witty and debonair persona. The romantic relationship is at first blocked by Bomasch's affection for Marsen, but once it is revealed that he is a Nazi agent who organises the kidnapping of Bomisch and her father, her affection is transfered to Bennett, who follows her to Germany to rescue her and her father - but after this Lockwood becomes a passive character, she is rescued and falls in love, but has little positive impact on the thriller aspect of the film. The propaganda of the film works through a series of contrasts between British and German: the Germans are authoritarian, humourless, obey hierarchies and lack initiative, the British are relaxed, witty, egalitarian and full of initiative. When we see Bennett with his superiors they are relaxed and lounge about (one official passing on a message from his wife about a recipe), they allow Bennett to go to Germany although it is against protocol. Once in Germany Bennett is able to infiltrate the headquarters just through wearing an officer's uniform, the Nazis clicking to attention before his rank. Charters and Caldicott, as in The Lady Vanishes, at first are comically self concerned characters, but once their Britishness is called upon they do the right thing and help Bennett. But the egalitarianism of the British is a class restricted one: the Britishness is one shared by those who have gone to the right schools, who talk in the right way (the few working class characters who are seen keep in their places, which is not making decisions or playing a part in a romantic thriller). One of the few complexities offered by the film - although it is hinted at rather than played through - is in the Paul Henreid character: he realises that Bennett is a foreign agent and this seems due to his understated feelings for Bomasch: he has an emotional basis lacking in the other Nazis, making him a more human character. But the film remains in its undemanding formula of uncomplicated emotions
  • Carol Reed's 1940 thriller "Night Train to Munich" bears more than a passing resemblance to Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" of two years earlier. The two films share a star, Margaret Lockwood; crucial scenes aboard trains in Central Europe during the pre-World War II era; and the use of obvious miniatures. However, the most amusing carry-overs from the Hitchcock film are the characters of Charters and Caldicott, two English travelers who evidently have been touring the continent since 1938. The quintessential Englishmen, embodied by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, are always miffed by the inconveniences of travel, bumble into the action at critical moments, and are seemingly more pre-occupied by cricket scores and the whereabouts of golf clubs than European politics on the brink of a world conflict.

    Unfortunately, the script by Sidney Gilliat, from a story by Gordon Wellesley, does not focus on Charters and Caldicott, but rather on Lockwood and her attempts to get out of Prague to rejoin her inventor father in England, where he has found asylum from the Nazis. Although relatively short, the film has credibility problems, and action often jumps forward inexplicably, leaving gaping holes of exposition missing. Rex Harrison and Paul Henreid star alongside Lockwood; although Harrison was once referred to as "sexy Rexy," Henreid has more appeal, even in this pre-Casablanca pre-Now Voyager role. Evidently made as anti-Nazi propaganda, the film lacks tension, feels light, and borders on unintentional comedy, as when the incompetent Gestapo is easily fooled. Of course, everyone speaks English, and Harrison outwits the Nazis and passes for a German officer, because he once lived in Germany. A simplistic film that requires huge leaps in logic, "Night Train to Munich" is saved only by the talents of Lockwood, Harrison, and Henreid, and, of course, by the welcome return of Charters and Caldicott.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This was billed as a comedy-drama but the laughter that filled the NFT at a recent showing was less an appreciation of any humorous content in the script than a reaction to the risible construction. Time after time director Reed and screenrights Launder and Gilliat rework the classic anecdote of the penny dreadful writer who, in an effort to extract a rise from his editor, left his hero stranded in a deep well full of deadly snakes and refused to write the next episode til he got a rise; finally, having exhausted all other avenues the editor caved in and the hack got his rise. The next episode began 'Once out of the well ...'. Consider: Within minutes of the opening Margaret Lockwood finds herself in a concentration camp where she is befriended by fellow prisoner Paul Henreid. He intimates that he knew one of the guards some years ago and said guard will help them escape. Cut to a searchlight raking the camp. A hand pulls a lever, the light is diminished for ten seconds. The light goes back on and sweeps the camp again, disclosing a hole in the barbed wire. Cut to: A boat en route to England with Lockwood and Henreid on board. No reference to any possible chase, cross-country flight, locating a boat etc. In the next shot they are coming ashore in full daylight on a beach crowded with holiday makers. Maybe in 1940 cinema-goers didn't ask awkward questions. Just as well. More? Okay. Much later - by now Lockwood and her vitally-important scientist father have been kidnapped by German agents in England and taken to Berlin and British agent Rex Harrison, masquerading as a high-ranking Nazi, is contriving to get them back to England. Unknown to him he has been rumbled by none other than Henreid, long since revealed as a Nazi himself. Two English travellers, Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, overhear Henreid talking on the telephone to his superiors and arranging to have Harrison, Lockwood and her father arrested at Munich. They contrive to warn Harrison and then THIS happens: Harrison returns to his compartment where Henreid reveals that the jig is up and calls for the two German guards who are accompanying them to come and arrest Harrison. Who should appear in the uniform of the two guards but Radford and Wayne, the two least likely middle-aged Englishmen to overpower two fully armed German officers. Again, no mention of HOW they did it, on a crowded train yet and NO ONE noticed. It's like this from start to finish plus it's also one of those films in which ordinary foreigners speak not only accent-free English but also use English constructions, so that Lockwood is Czeckoslovakian only because the script SAYS she is. One minute Harrison is in London thinking of a plan to get Lockwood out of Germany, the next he is in Berlin in full German army uniform masquerading as a high official. If you can forget all these glaring errors it's an enjoyable romp - and do try not to laugh at the station sign reading Munchen West - with a cast of well known English actors of the time, Felix Aylmer, Raymond Huntley, etc. Any similarity to The Lady Vanishes has to be intentional and Launder and Gilliat, who wrote TLV get extra mileage out of the Radford-Wayne characters who first appeared in TLV. In 1940 this was no doubt gripping; in 2006 ...
  • Hernried9 August 2001
    Wonderful suspense buildup. Well-done integration of actual Nazi footage. The rinky-dink miniature sets for outdoor longshots were a hoot! Okay, so the Brits didn't have a lot of money for fancy sound stages. The real highlight is watching Paul Henreid take on his Gestapo agent role with smooth relish. Just a few years before, he had been effectively blacklisted from German-language films for not signing up with the Nazi Actors' Guild. This role won him an award, and was much more interesting a part than that of Victor Laszlo in "Casablanca". Rex Harrison was overall good, but at times a little too "cute", as were the two Englishmen on the train.
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