VON RYAN'S EXPRESS
DIRECTED BY MARK ROBSON
PRODUCED BY SAUL DAVID/ MARK ROBSON
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
DIRECTED BY MARK ROBSON
PRODUCED BY SAUL DAVID/ MARK ROBSON
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
Information From IMDb
August, 1943. Colonel Joseph Ryan of the US Army Air Forces is shot down in Italy and taken to a prison camp populated by the Royal Army's 9th Fusiliers and run by sadistic commandant Battaglia. With the recent passing of their commanding colonel, the 9th Fusiliers under Major Eric Fincham must now answer to the new senior officer of the prisoners, Ryan. Also in the camp are several American prisoners who don't cotton to Major Fincham's stubborn passive resistance to Battaglia, passive resistance that has led to denial of clean clothes, soap, running water, and decent food. When two of the Americans are "arrested" by Fincham for trying to steal medicines being horded for escape attempts, Ryan points out the varied tunnels being built by Fincham's men to Battaglia in exchange for necessities, but is double-crossed by Battaglia. Ryan then fights back with an audacious order, which embarasses Battaglia and sends Ryan to a sweatbox to die. But Italy surrenders a few days later and Battaglia is taken prisoner and put to trial in which he will be executed, even though with Italy out of the war he is now a civilian. Ryan disbands the trial and has Battaglia placed in the sweatbox, but a German overflight forces the battalion to flee for safety. After a day-night march, the escaped prisoners and trapped by German forces and herded onto a train, but not before their betrayer can stand and gloat at his victory, and earn Ryan seemingly permanent hatred by the British soldiers. Ryan, however, is not finished, and orchestrates an even more daring escape, seizing the train. But with German forces all around, and after escaping a bombing raid by British Lancasters, they must drive the train further north to escape the Germans and try for the only safe haven to be found.
Written by Michael Daly
Frank Sinatra ... Colonel Joseph L. Ryan
Trevor Howard ... Major Eric Fincham
Raffaella Carrà ... Gabriella (as Raffaella Carra)
Brad Dexter ... Sergeant Bostick
Sergio Fantoni ... Captain Oriani
John Leyton ... Orde
Edward Mulhare ... Captain Costanzo
Wolfgang Preiss ... Major Von Klemment
James Brolin ... Private Ames
John Van Dreelen ... Colonel Gortz (as John van Dreelen)
Adolfo Celi ... Battaglia
Vito Scotti ... Italian Train Engineer
Richard Bakalyan ... Corporal Giannini
Michael Goodliffe ... Captain Stein
Michael St. Clair ... Sergeant Major Dunbar
Ivan Triesault ... Von Kleist
Ian Abercrombie ... English POW (uncredited)
William Berger ... Man from the Gestapo (uncredited)
Arthur Brauss ... Lt. Gertel--German Mess Officer (uncredited)
William Conroy ... German Soldier (uncredited)
John Daheim ... American Soldier (uncredited)
Domenick Delgarde ... Italian Soldier (uncredited)
Horst Ebersberg ... German Pilot (uncredited)
Barry Ford ... Ransom's Batman (uncredited)
Brian Gaffikin ... English voices (voice) (uncredited)
Donald F. Glut ... P.O.W. (uncredited)
Gino Gottarelli ... Gotrz's Aide #2 (uncredited)
Joe Gray ... Prisoner (uncredited)
Peter Hellman ... Pilot (uncredited)
Robert 'Buzz' Henry ... American Soldier (uncredited)
Walter Linden ... German Captain (uncredited)
Eric Micklewood ... Ransom (uncredited)
John Mitory ... Oriani's Aide (uncredited)
Ernesto Molinari ... Italian Tailor (uncredited)
Paul Muller ... Hauptmann Josef Sonneberg (uncredited)
Benito Prezia ... Italian Corporal (uncredited)
Christopher Riordan ... Nude P.O.W. (uncredited)
Michael Romanoff ... Italian Nobleman (uncredited)
Bob Rosen ... P.O.W. who opens sweat box (uncredited)
James Sikking ... American Soldier (uncredited)
Al Silvani ... American P.O.W. at Train Station (uncredited)
Lee Stanley ... English Prisoner (uncredited)
Jacques Stany ... Gortz's Aide (uncredited)
Brad Stevens ... German Sergeant (uncredited)
Max Turilli ... German Officer at Plane Crash Site (uncredited)
Al Wyatt Sr. ... American Soldier (uncredited)
David Westheimer (novel)
Wendell Mayes (screenplay)
Joseph Landon (screenplay)
William H. Daniels
* Trevor Howard was second choice for Major Fincham.
* According to Producer Saul David's memoirs Jack Hawkins and Peter Finch were possibles for the part of Major Fincham
* Average Shot Length = ~5.3 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~5.4 seconds.
* The first train station, Firenze SMN or Santa Maria Novella, is the end of a spur into Florence. The train wouldn't have gone through it.
* According to the memoirs of the producers the original choice to play Sgt Bostick was vetoed by the star.
* This movie's opening prologue states: "ITALY, AUGUST 1943. With the Allies poised to strike, the Germans seized control of Italy. So the war-weary Italian nation fought on, a prisoner of the German armies."
* Frank Sinatra insisted the movie be filmed in Panavision rather than the 20th Century Fox Studio's CinemaScope.
Frank Sinatra mandated that this movie's ending be changed and subsequently this destroyed any possibility of a sequel that the 20th Century Fox studio was considering. In the original ending which appears in the source novel, Ryan is not killed as with the film's ending, he survives and with the other escaped POWs, is able to get to neutral Switzerland. This ending would have allowed Ryan, the movie's central character, to appear in a sequel. Sinatra wished for his character to be killed of to add a token of believability to the movie as well as for there to be redemption for the death of the female character Gabriella.
* Anachronisms: As the Padre begins to type the change orders for the train to be re-routed, he says (in German) the date of 11 Sep 1941. The U.S. was not involved in the war until December 1941. The year should have been 1943.
* Revealing mistakes: When Fincham hurls a grenade at the mouth of the tunnel, during the final shootout, the ground is littered with dead German soldiers. As the rocks explode, one of the "dead" soldiers raises his arm to ward off flying debris.
* Anachronisms: A German officer uses a transistorized bullhorn to address the prisoners on the train. The transistor was not invented until 1947.
* Factual errors: At the very beginning of the movie when Col. Ryan's P-38 airplane is flying over the city trailing smoke, the smoke is coming from the center fuselage, not one of the engines. The sound of an engine sputtering is clearly heard, but the smoke is not coming from an engine.
* Errors in geography: The map shows the Passo Maloja in Italy before the Swiss border, but this pass was and is in Switzerland.
* Continuity: Colonel Ryan orders the prisoners to remove their clothes and burn them. However, Private Ames starts undressing before the order is given.
* Continuity: When the prisoners are getting off the train for the first time in Rome to get food and water, in one scene it shows the German commander's private train car already attached to the end of the train. However a few scenes later it shows a rail-yard worker helping to guide the passenger car into place and coupling it to the last boxcar of the train.
* Revealing mistakes: Major Von Klement uses a shard of glass to cut the rope binding his hands, but the gap in the loosely tied rope is clearly big enough to slip his hand out of it.
* Factual errors: While the prisoners are capturing the railroad control tower at the entrance to Milan to reroute the train, another prisoner gets off the train and throws several switches. A junction approaching a major station would be controlled from within the tower, and would not have manual switches that could be thrown by hand.
* Anachronisms: As the Padre is typing the order to change the routing of the train, he is using an American-made Underwood typewriter. This was a common office model in the 1950s in the U.S., but definitely not in use by the Germans in WW II. The German military would have used a Siemag or Adler pre-war model.
* Factual errors: During the scene at the beginning of the movie in which Ryan arrives at the POW camp and sees the burial of the British commanding officer, the British regiment is in formation by companies and the right hand marker of each company is holding a guidon (small flag on a staff). As the remains pass each company the guidon in lowered in salute. In the British Army (unlike in the US Army) individual companies do not carry guidons on parade (the only flags in an infantry regiment are the "Queens Colours" and the "Regimental Colours") and flags are not lowered in salute.
* Factual errors: All of the German soldiers carrying MP38/40 sub-machine guns (including all of the guards on the train) were wearing the wrong ammo pouches. The MP38/40 fired 9mm pistol ammunition from a 32-round detachable box magazine. The soldiers were all wearing cartridge pouches designed to hold 5-round stripper clips of 7.92mm ammunition for a bolt-action Mauser rifle. This means none of the Germans carrying sub-machine guns had any ready ammunition available once they fired the 32 rounds in their only magazine. This is a common mistake in WWII TV shows and movies.
* Revealing mistakes: After the uniforms of the POWs are burned, new clothes are issued to them. All prisoners appear to get the exact same uniform they had before, specifically, Maj Fincham has the same style shirt as before - wearing it with at least 2 buttons undone. Others around him are wearing different style shirts. Odds are that replacement shirts would not be replacement British military uniforms but some sort of other dress.
* Revealing mistakes: When the Germans first catch up with the escaped POW's at the ruins, several groups of prisoners try to escape by running. One German soldier shoots and kills some of the escaping prisoners; some of the POW's fall even though the German is not aiming at them.
* Continuity: As Col. Ryan departs his quarters for his first meal in the camp his khaki shirt shows underarm and chest sweat, yet when he joins the British officers, the sweat marks are gone.
* Factual errors: Sergeant Bostick introduces himself to COL Ryan as being from the 113th Tank Division. There was no unit with that number or title in the US Army.
* Factual errors: A German Soldier mentions in German that the Train moves to "Oesterreich" (Austria). From 1938 - 1945 Austria was a Part of Germany and the official Name was "Ostmark" instead of "Oesterreich".
* Incorrectly regarded as goofs: During the attack on the train by the Messerschmitts, the prisoners on top are shooting at the aircraft with MP40s, a weapon that fired pistol rounds. As such, the 9mm rounds wouldn't have the range to even reach the aircraft, let alone damage them. However, the prisoners would have tried to fend the aircraft off with whatever weapons they had.
* Incorrectly regarded as goofs: Luftwaffe pilots are supposed to be flying ME-109s, but in fact they are flying Messerschmitt ME-108 Taifuns. The Taifun was a liaison/training aircraft, not a fighter, but its resemblance to the ME-109 made it a reasonable stand-in for the film.
The German commander of the pursuing train notices that the escaping POWs have loosened the tracks behind them. He quickly orders the engineer to slam on the brakes and the train comes to a halt in about three seconds. Given the train's massive size and speed, it would take much longer to come to a stop.
Málaga, Andalucía, Spain
Santa Maria Novella-SMN Train Station, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
The post was edited 1 time, last by ethanedwards ().