The First Great Train Robbery Film Details
Overview: England, 1850s. A master criminal aims to rob a train of a large sum of gold. Security is incredibly tight and the task seems an impossible one. However, he has a plan and just the right people to carry it out.
Tagline: Never have so few taken so much from so many.
Review: The First Great Train Robbery is set in Victorian England in 1855 during the Crimean War while Great Britain was at war with Imperial Russia, to pay the soldiers £25,000 worth of gold is transported to the Crimean Peninsula every month starting at the London branch of the Huddleston and Bradford bank & across England by train in two several inch thick safe’s which require four keys to open. No-one has ever robbed a moving train before but suave criminal Edward Pierce (Sean Connery) & his partner Miriam (Lesley-Anne Downe) comes up with an elaborate & daring plan to do just that. Each of the four keys are stored separately so finding them & copying them is the first thing Edward & his men need to do, then the hard work really starts… This British production was written & directed by Michael Critchton based on his own 1975 novel which was simply titled Great Train Robbery, apparently the ‘First’ was added to the title to distance itself from the real great train robbery of the 60’s. The film apparently is a fairly accurate adaptation of the novel although the end is changed slightly & a subplot involving a 12 year old prostitute was also dropped. Based on true events that indeed took place in 1855 the film doesn’t really strive for historic accuracy & is a crime caper in the mould of The Italian Job (1969) with a charismatic & likable criminal & his gang staging a daring heist to steal lots of gold & a throughly entertaining tale it is too, I have to say I liked it a lot. I liked the character’s, Sean Connery’s character in particular is very suave & likable, I love the innuendo filled conversation he has with Edgar Trent’s wife, Donald Sutherland’s key maker Agar provides good support although in the book it was he who turned Pierce into the police & there’s plenty of colourful Victorian character’s to flesh the film out as well. The film has a decent pace although it’s not the most incident packed ever made, the film has lots of great sequences from the tension filled scenes where they steal & copy the the keys to the exciting climax where Pierce has to make his way across the roof of a speeding train. If you like crime heist films then this is one of the best. Director Crichton does a good job & the film looks splendid with sumptuous Victorian England production design, I would expect a lot of time effort & energy was spent on making The First Great Train Robbery look so good. Animal lovers should beware, although not in the UK since it’s cut, because there’s a ratting scene where a dog attacks some rats. The film showcase’s both the rich splendour of the wealthy inhabitants of Victorian England (there’s a great scene early on in a mens club where several gents scoff at the idea of women being able to vote) & the squalid slums of the poorer inhabitants. There’s a great attention to detail throughout including a recreation of a flower show held at Crystal Palace. With a supposed budget of about £6,000,000 the film is well made throughout with impressive production values & period design. Filmed in Ireland & here in England. The acting is very good with Sean Connery making a very likable villain but one who also has a dark side when needed, British ballet dancer Wayne Sleep did all his own stunts including scaling that prison wall while there are numerous other notable faces involved. The First Great Train Robbery wasn’t the first by any means but definitely still stands as a great heist film that has eye catching period detail, a good solid plot & a great cast. A really good film & it’s as simple & straight forward as that.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English, French
Duration: 110 min
Genre: Adventure, Crime, Drama
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