The Train

The Train ★★★★½

“Men are such fools. Men want to be heroes, and their widows mourn.”

Handsome, muscular cinema that turns the vulgarities of screeching iron into something downright symphonic. Lancaster is fantastic. No face knows weariness quite like his, yet few also manage to be as comforting. John Frankenheimer’s The Train harkens back to old-fashioned cinema in the best senses of the word, where leading men conveyed the physical strain of a day’s work in merciless wides, and spectacle directors expressed a sensitivity and meticulousness to match the brawn of their production value. The war within the war in The Train is damn near poetry, pitting vile charlatans who appreciate the value of art but lack its soul against the common man who knows little of art but embodies its ends. If a purpose of art can then be said to capture the ineffable flame of life itself, Lancaster’s final, wordless glances before the killing stroke does as at least as much as any brushstroke ever put to canvas.

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