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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video conversation between film scholars Peter Evans and Bruce Babington about director Carol Reed, screenwriters Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, and the social and political climate in which Night Train to Munich was made

Night Train to Munich


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Carol Reed
Starring: Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison, Paul Henreid, Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, James Harcourt, Felix Aylmer
1940 | 95 Minutes | Licensor: 20th Century Fox

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #523
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: June 29, 2010
Review Date: June 12, 2010

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SYNOPSIS

A twisting, turning, cloak-and-dagger delight, Night Train to Munich is a gripping, occasionally comic confection from writers Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat (Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes) and director Carol Reed (The Fallen Idol, The Third Man). Paced like an out-of-control locomotive, Night Train takes viewers on a World War II-era journey from Prague to England to the Swiss Alps, as Nazis pursue a Czech scientist and his daughter (Margaret Lockwood, of The Lady Vanishes), who are being aided by a debonair British undercover agent, played by Rex Harrison (Major Barbara, My Fair Lady). This captivating, long-overlooked adventure-which also features Casablanca's Paul Henreid-mixes comedy, romance, and thrills with enough skill and cleverness to give the master of suspense himself pause.

Forum members rate this film 7.1/10

 

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PICTURE

Carol Reedís Night Train to Munich is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer disc. The transfer has been window boxed.

It doesnít come as too much of a surprise that the transfer looks very good, free of any distracting artifacts or digital problems. Gray levels look solid, and blacks and whites are perfectly balanced. The picture is clear and detailed as a whole, never looking fuzzy or soft unless the source materials go a little out of focus. The print is fairly spotless, with very little in the way of damage; specs of dirt appear from time to time, however theyíre never heavy. In the last 1/3 of the film there appears to be some slight bubbling which causes a wave through the image. I tried to capture it in a screen capture below, the eighth one, though didnít really succeed. Itís noticeable in motion, causing the picture to pulsate, shift and go out of focus in spots, but it does quickly correct itself.

But again the transfer itself is fine, still looking good upscaled. Itís disappointing that Criterion didnít feel it necessary to release the film on Blu-ray as the transfer would have looked great in high-definition, but that shouldnít let anyone deter themselves from picking this one up on DVD.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is a little problematic because of the source materials. There some noise in the background that is evident throughout and voices sound a little hollow and edgy, which actually makes it a little hard to understand the dialogue. I had to crank the volume from time to time, though turn it down again during a couple of louder moments. Could be worse but itís a fairly weak mono track.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Disappointingly there is only one feature on here, a conversation about the film between authors Bruce Babington and Peter Evans. It was filmed for this release, and Criterion, possibly trying to get a little more exciting in filming their interviews, films it in a train car cabin. Itís shy of 30-minutes but comes off fairly light. The two carry on a conversation about the film, including its social commentary, presentation of the classes, humour, and itís historical context. They of course touch on the politics at the time, the war, and defend the rather light presentation of German concentration camps, the true horrors of which wouldnít become well known until years later. They mention the careers of writers Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, who both previously worked on Hitchcockís The Lady Vanishes, along with director Carol Reed. They make some comparisons between Night Train to Munich and The Lady Vanishes, specifically in the characters, and of course talk briefly about Charters and Caldicott, who were fairly popular characters who appeared in a number of films. While there is some interesting information, and some decent analysis, itís not truly probing and come off a little light. Apparently this was done in place of a commentary track, which is probably for the better. The material is unfortunately slim and in all honesty I probably could have done without actually watching it.

The booklet included with this edition comes with a short essay by Philip Kemp that repeats a little of what was covered in the conversation piece. Despite this itís still a good read, and actually gets into more detail about the performers and the careers of the filmís director and writers.

Very slim for a Criterion release, even a lower-tier, itís one lone supplement being one I could have probably done without.

3/10

CLOSING

Despite the lack of supplements Iím quite thrilled to still have a decent edition of the film on DVD. Even with its short comings, just having a strong transfer is more than enough and on that basis alone I do give this DVD a fairly strong recommendation.


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