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La Bataille du Rail back to product details

Railroaded
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written by talltale May 4, 2006 - 4:17 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
As a big fan of French writer/director Rene Clement (Forbidden Games," "Purple Noon," "Joy House"), I was quite looking forward to LE BATAILLE DU RAIL. Well, that's over. While I am sure that the French needed to feel good about themselves after their Nazi occupation, this rah-rah paean to the railroad workers of that country doesn't quite cut it today--given what the world knows now (and probably always has) about the French resistance. It was there, all right, but it wasn't all that huge in number or success. (It's not like I imagine that the U.S. would do or behave any better under an occupation; we're practically "occupied" now, and how are we responding?)

However, this 1946 film (according to the imdb; GC says '45), which uses many actual railroad workers and has a highly documentary flavor, seems so intent on proving its point that the French rail workers helped immensely in paving the way for the Normandy invasion that things like German ingenuity and force, not to mention French collaborators, get little mention. There is one strong scene of German reprisal and one mention of a co-worker having "big"--or maybe it was "long"--ears, but that's it. Otherwise, this is so-so stuff, perfectly OK for its time. There's little characterization here but some suspense when things appear to go awry (and quite a nifty train crash late in the film). Yet the whole operation appears to be too much of a breeze to take very seriously. That said, the movie probably still commands the power to induce the French of a certain age to clasp their bosom and burst forth with "La Marseilleise."

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(Average 7.20)
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