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Night Train to Munich (1940)

20 November 2012 | Criterion Gems, Features | by David Zou

Night Train to Munich,directed by one of the greatest British filmmaker ever – Carol Reed(The Third Man,Odd Man Out),is an underrated spy thriller that would give you a joyful ride.

Film_NightTrain

 

The Sequel to The Lady Vanishes

If you have never heard of the title,you may have heard of The Lady Vanishes,a British classic spy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock,and is considered to be his best during his British period.In that film,viewers are impressed by the witty dialogue,the smart and courageous heroine,and most of all,the cricket-loving comedy duo Charters and Caldicott,one of the most beloved comedy pair in British cinema history.Well,you can find all of them in Night Train to Munich.If you ask me to compare both,yeah,it is not as good as The Lady Vanishes overall,but it really has some brilliant parts that will remind you of the best of Hitchcock.

 

A World War II Spy Thriller

night_train_to_munich

It is natural that most of spy films are thrillers,and Night Train to Munich is no exception,but what makes this film exceptional is Carol Reed’s Hitchcockian touch that makes this film more suspenseful than the others,and you can even call it one of the most Hitchcockian film Hitchcock himself never made.The best part starts when all the passengers get off at a certain point of the way,and ends with the British spy knows his identity is given out。Let’s take a step by step look at how Reed manipulates our nerves:

1.Caldicott calls out the disguised British spy’s real name without knowing what’s going on with his mission.Very accidental and surprising,we wish we could shut up this stupid guy’s mouth but it’s too late,we know his identity has become suspicious.

2.The Nazi officer sensed something wrong and reported back to the headquarter immediately by phone,we are worried about the fate of the protagonists,and Charters overheard of the conversation,OK,at least somebody else knows the story besides us.

3.The duo are cautious about taking actions because it could cost their lives,we are anxious,but it seems they are not able to make their minds.

4.A Nazi officer passes by and pisses them off,which pushes them to decide to inform his country fellow,but it is almost impossible to take any actions since the coach is heavily guarded by Nazi soldiers,so they secretly hide a note with explanations under a donut(or a cookie) which is sent into the coach.

5.But will this wild card falls into the spy’s hands or the Nazi’s hands,we never know.They take their food but nobody notices the note,suddenly the heroin sees it but at the same time the officer also spots it,the suspense reaches its highest point,the spy takes the note from the girl and calmly claims that it’s a bill,he reads the important info and makes an excuse to the men’s room where the duo are waiting for him.Finally,we can take a deep breath.

 

The Comic Flavor

Charters and Caldicott

If you want to make a successful spy thriller,suspense and romance are not enough,you need some comic flavor to moderate the intense situation once a while.As long as Charters and Caldicott are in the film,you don’t have to worry about that.You are gonna wait almost an hour for their entrance in Night Train to Munich,and surprisingly they play a more pivotal part than in The Lady Vanishes.The long wait is worthwhile,because from the first minute they enter the screen,they steal the whole show effortlessly,you will have a lot of fun watching them talk,act and dress(as Nazi soldiers),their presence makes the best example of typical British humor.

 

If you are into spy thrillers or love Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes,Night Train to Munich is something you shouldn’t miss.

 

 

 


   

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