"If one prisoner escapes... it is a victory, Von Ryan!"
By a customer
, 15 Aug 2011
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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Colonel Joseph L. Ryan (Frank Sinatra) of the army air corps is shot down over Italy, then taken to an Italian run POW camp, and meets Major Eric Fincham (Trevor Howard). At first they come to blows, Yank vs Limey, but put their petty differences aside and resolve to escape! With great ingenuity, guile and courage, they hijack a train and begin a cross-country journey to Switzerland.
This film is a fast-paced action adventure, director Mark Robson building suspense as a cat-and-mouse chase between the POWs and the German army ensues. It is a serious film, but with a good sense of humour, brilliantly brought to life by Wendell Mayes from the novel by David Westheimer.
It has a gripping and stirring soundtrack by newly discovered Jerry Goldsmith, making the tension rise higher and higher as the film progresses to its dramatic climax.
I feel Frank Sinatra was a fantastic singer, but respectfully, in this film, I agree with other reviewers that he wasn't the best actor. He has a great charisma, is a likeable character, and does a decent job, and I can buy that he is the all-American hero. Trevor Howard plays the stereotypical stiff-upper-lip Englishman, but the film does allow him to be heroic. Adolfo Celi, as Battaglia, the Commandant, is a brilliant villain in the classic sense, sinister, threatening, and a bad guy with a capital B! He does truly terrible things, but it just makes it all the more satisfying and makes you cheer for the heroes even more! Film fans may recognise him as Emilio Lago from James Bond Thunderball.
Von Ryan's Express is reasonably violent. There's no blood and gore but I would not recommend it for very young children. Anyone older than 8 should be fine to watch it! Also, although I greatly enjoyed this film, it has the feeling that it's trying to be the next Great Escape film. There are subtle things, like music, plot, characters, that give you a sense of deja vu. But to be fair, films do copy films is a formula is popular.
Von Ryan's Express is a good old war film, perfect for a rainy afternoon, as my dad would say. I give this two thumbs up, watch this film to escape boredom for an hour or two!
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