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parrot_knight [userpic]

Night Train to Munich

May 4th, 2008 (12:52 pm)
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A few observations:

This plot looks implausible, I thought... and it turned out to be so. Never trust kindly German optometrists in Hampstead who arrange discounts on glasses for small children.

Charters and Caldicott appear to have decided that the eve of war between Britain and Germany was the ideal time to go to Berlin for a spot of golf. Nonetheless, their meeting with the Marsen-Herzog-Bomasch party is set up to make the viewer wonder whether one of them will remark that Anna Bomasch looks remarkably like Iris from The Lady Vanishes (though it's a more introverted performance from Margaret Lockwood than in the earlier film); expectation is then displaced when Caldicott recognises Herzog as his Balliol chum Dickie Randall (played by Rex Harrison rather than Michael Redgrave).

I am humbled by Charters's grasp of German (though I suspect that British preconceptions expected that a chap wasn't supposed to need a knowledge of French to enjoy La Vie Parisienne). While Paul Henried's Gestapo officer Marsen's initial kindliness is a performance motivated by his love of National Socialism and the Reich, Randall's initial persona as seaside song and dance man Gus Bennett arises directly from his membership of the Foreign Office Operatic Society, and he knows that apparent flippancy is the best way to deflect the despair which could result from extreme crisis.

The final chair-lift scene is a great achievement given the small dimensions of the studio at Lime Grove, and Marsen ultimately seems to be a sporting chap who knows when he is beaten, at least when isolated from his fellow-Nazis.