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Trivia / The Train

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  • Creative Differences: Arthur Penn envisioned a more intimate film that would muse on the role art played in Lancaster's character, and why he would risk his life to save the country's great art from the Nazis. He did not intend to give much focus to the mechanics of the train operation itself. But Burt Lancaster wanted more emphasis on action to ensure that the film would be a hit, after the failure of his film The Leopard.
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  • Irony as She Is Cast: Unlike his character Labiche, Burt Lancaster was actually a great admirer of art in real life and amassed quite a collection over the years.
  • Missing Episode: A sequence showing Col. Von Waldheim entering a small church was originally in the film but has long since disappeared.
  • Looping Lines: In the final confrontation between Labiche character and the Nazi colonel, the shooting conditions were so cold that Paul Scofield reportedly had to talk whilst inhaling, so clouds of warm breath wouldn't appear on film. His voice was looped in later.
  • McLeaned: When told that Michel Simon would be unable to complete scenes scripted for his character as a result of prior contractual obligations, John Frankenheimer devised the sequence wherein Papa Boule is executed by the Germans. Jacques Marin's character was killed for similar reasons.
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  • No Stunt Double: Burt Lancaster performed all of his own stunts in this movie. Albert Rémy also got into the act by performing the stunt of uncoupling the engine from the art train on a real moving train. When Robert is shot and falls off the roof, the stunt double was unable to perform that particular scene... so Burt Lancaster did the stunt. Watch it in slow motion, and you can see his face. In the DVD commentary, done in the late '90s, John Frankenheimer says, probably correctly, that you could never have a film like this today; no insurance company would touch it.
  • Old Shame: Paul Scofield's experience making this film convinced him to focus on theatre as opposed to films. In addition to a Troubled Production, he didn't warm to Burt Lancaster (though the two would work together again, many years later, on the spy thriller Scorpio) and generally found the demands of film work unsatisfying compared to the theatre.
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  • Spared by the Cut: Papa Boule and Jacques live in the script but die in the film due to their actors being too busy to film all of their planned scenes.
  • Troubled Production: The film saw its director replaced a week into production, cold weather in France and going over budget and over schedule. John Frankenheimer says on the DVD Commentary that several of the French cast members were killed off because the overlong production interfered with previous work commitments.
  • Wag the Director: Burt Lancaster had Arthur Penn fired as director and replaced with John Frankenheimer.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Arthur Penn envisioned a more intimate film that would muse on the role art played in the French character, and why they would risk their lives to save the country's great art from the Nazis and didn't focus on the mechanics of the train operation itself. John Frankenheimer said that in the original script Penn wanted to shoot, the train did not leave the station until page 90. The production was shut down briefly while the script was rewritten.
    • Col. Von Waldheim was originally to engage Labiche in a shootout at the film's end. When Paul Scofield was cast, however, the final scene was re-written so he would taunt Labiche into killing him.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Burt Lancaster took a day off during shooting to play golf when the shooting was about half completed. On the links, he stepped in a hole and re-aggravated an old knee injury. In order to compensate for the injury, John Frankenheimer had Lancaster's character shot in the leg, thus enabling him to limp through the rest of the shooting.


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