By Charlie Dennison
This line from Billy Crystal may be a bit rhetorical to Danny DeVito’s hilarious “Throw Mom off the train,” but, when you really think about it, there are a lot of mysteries that use trains as the central setting. Having spent most of my summer managing a dinner train in the middle of Montana (shamelessly unreasonable plug), I started some thinking.
Of course, when the train and the film intersect, it is impossible to ignore the influence of the great Alfred Hitchcock, so he will be well represented here. The list goes on for decades and there are a variety of unique twists and turns (or shakes and shakes for that matter) in the film. There’s some romance, yes, there’s suspense, there’s murder, there’s even some Korean zombies. Enjoy this list of contemporary and classic train flicks.
Lady Vanish (1938)
This amazingly stupid early Hitchcock film is a great example of how the iconic director humanizes disaster. Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) is going to England for marriage. He had a pleasant visit with a mature English woman named Miss Frey (Mary Whitty). After hitting the head on a fallen flower-pot, Miss Frey helps Iris sit up and stay with her for a while. When Iris wakes up from a sleep, Miss Frey leaves unspoken, and – probably – no one remembers seeing her. When Iris begins her quest to solve the mystery, she is joined by Gilbert (Michael Redgrave), who is somehow charming and insulting. He’s also funny, and one of the reasons this film successfully mixes mystery and excitement.
The tenant disappeared
Stranger on the Train (1951)
In today’s society, “strangers on the train” seem to be a great promotional tool as to why you should keep your airpods when using public transportation.
Well-known tournament tennis player Guy Haynes (Farley Granger) had the opportunity to meet Bruno Antony (Robert Walker, reminiscent of early Kevin Spacey) on a train in Southampton. It’s clear from the start that there’s something off with Bruno, but Guy is entertaining him, albeit impatiently. But the encounter is far from ordinary and far from innocent. Be careful what you reveal about yourself.
This is one of the best Oscar-nominated Noir Hitchcock films, and one that has been imitated and celebrated for generations. It also features Hitchcock’s daughter Patricia as Barbara, who presents a fine line: “I still think it would be nice if a man would love you so much that he would kill for you.”
Hire strangers on the train
Throw Mom off the train (1987)
Danny Davito stars and manages to write this riotous crime comedy, a misunderstanding of an impossible friendship and epic proportions. Billy Crystal has Larry in the lead role, Owen’s critic, a divorced writer-trainer whose ex-wife has had great success with a book he claims he stole from her. Davito plays Owen, an aspiring writer who still lives with his mother (a funny little horror Ann Ramsay).
“She’s not a woman,” Wayne tells Larry. “She’s the Terminator.”
After encouraging Larry Owen to watch Hitchcock’s aforementioned “Strangers on a Train,” he created a frenzy (and humor). This film makes it easy to be sympathetic to writing instructors. Their work is more dangerous than people think.
Mama throwing fare from the train
Busan Train (2016)
It started to get familiar enough.
Commuter train passengers are watching the news. Despite the hysterics being broadcast, they don’t seem to be concerned. “People will riot about anything these days,” said one passenger. “In the old days, they would be re-educated.” Officials on TV encouraged people to “stay calm and trust our government because we all work together to address this current crisis.”
But this is no ordinary crisis. This is not a riot, and this is not another strain of coronavirus. No, these South Korean passengers on their way to Busan are working on something worse: a zombie apocalypse.
Directed by Sang-ho Yen, this unique move by the zombie genre centers on the relationship between an absent divorced father and his young daughter. Dad, Seok-wu (Gong Yu), failed to stay there for Su-an (Kim So-ahan) at a critical time in his life. The film also carries a moral message: If you are going to meet your death, keep your integrity intact.
Train fares to Busan
“Captain America” is a sci-fi thriller based on the French graphic novel Chris Evans by Jack Lobe. Directed by Bong Jun Ho (“Parasite”) and adapted for the screen, “Snowpier” took place in 2031 at The Rattling Ark, an almost unimaginably long luxury train with dramatic socio-economic divisions as we have today.
Why is the last remnant of the world’s population on the train? This is the result of a new ice age in which the CW-7 spread failed attempts to stop global warming. “The world is frozen. All life is extinct. Such an idea is more relevant now than it was when Lob’s graphic novel came out in the 1990s.
“Snoopers” is a mind-blowing film about how capitalism can inhumane the social class and sometimes revolution is the only possibility of progress. Scene-stealers Tilda Swinton, John Hart, Octavia Spencer, Song Kangho and Ed Harris co-star.
“Irresistible” is a feel-good, high-stakes, Tony Scott action thriller on the edge of your seat featuring Denzel Washington’s performance in another cool-pressure. In this film, Denzel plays 28-year-old railway engineer Frank Burns in the job, with nothing to lose in his fate. Chris Pine, co-starring Will Coulson, is having a hard time working with an experienced man of Frank’s dignity. They both deal with their confidence as they choose to embark on their play activities.
This may sound strange, but “Endless” is actually based on a real incident that happened in 2001 with a CSX train in Ohio. The movie is Denzel’s fifth and final collaboration with Scott, who died in August 2012. Rosario Dawson and Ethan Supley co-star
The Girl on the Train (2011)
Based on Paula Hawkins’ thriller, Tate Taylor (“The Help,” “Get On Up”), this exciting, sexy dark thriller is directed by Emily Blunt, played by Rachel, a drunken woman who can’t get over her unfaithful ex-husband. Tom (star Justin Theroux). He spends his time riding a commuter train, crossing his old neighborhood and dreaming of the couple next door who seem to have everything.
This film serves as a warning of the dangers and wave effects associated with disbelief and does it in a way that makes you guess. As Rachel says in the book, “There is nothing so painful, so destructive as to suspect.” Scott and Megan as co-stars Luke Evans and Haley Bennett, two spooky and flawed characters that Rachel never imagined.
Rent the girl on the train
Brad Anderson (“The Machinist,” “Beirut”), who directed the film, thinks co-star Ben Kingsley is a “very, very colorful, delicious roller coaster.” The American couple Jesse and Roy (Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson) take a two-way adventure on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow, where they meet Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and his young girlfriend (Kate Mara). Carlos captures Jesse’s wild and rebellious past, which is easily provoked.
The temptation that starts turns into a more dangerous game. Soon Jesse finds himself over his head. Russian spies (enter Kingsley) are looking for Carlos, but can they be trusted? How will Jesse get out of this mess? And can her marriage survive?
Source code (2011)
Duncan Jones (“Moon”), son of David Bowie, manages a time-loop flick like this non-stop “Groundhog Day” where Captain Coulter Stevens (Jack Gillenhall) performs a very unusual job. Unbeknownst to him through the technology, Stevens steps on the body of a Chicago commuter train passenger for eight minutes in the hope of preventing one bomb attack after another that kills everyone on board. Every eight-minute session takes him closer to the offender.
There are many questions here: Why is Stevens part of this test? Where is he? Why can’t he get out? And if he is able to complete the mission, will these answers be revealed? It may take a lot to take, but it’s worth it. Michelle Monaghan and Vera Fermiga co-star.
Rental source code
This list only scratches the surface of train-related movies. Here are some more recommendations:
The Taking of Pelham One to Three (1974)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Darjeeling Limited (2007)
The Great Train Robbery (1979)
For music lovers:
Big Easy Express (2012)
And you can’t have a train blog without shouting at some westerner:
How the West Conquered (1962)
The Train Robbers (1973)
Charlie Dennison is a freelance writer, musician, award-winning journalist and 11-year-old DVD Netflix member who lives with his wife in Lewistown, Montana.
She has been featured in “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, “Montana Quarterly Magazine,” and other publications. Follow him on Twitter Charlibigsky.