Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

15 April 2011

Train Movies: Part 2

So, as I am watching train movies, lately – there will (at least) be a part 3 of this post – I thought I would finally watch John Frankenheimer's 1964 picture The Train. I was cool with it. It is ostensibly an action movie (most of these train movies are), but The Train is also trying to be a picture about "doing the right thing" and "the value of art to the nation" and other things I care a lot less about.

But don't get me wrong; this is a really exciting picture. Frankenheimer doesn't have the reputation he does for no reason. There are some awesome explosions and very cool train crashes. There is also a really, really exciting sequence where the people on the train and the people in the French resistance in local towns all trick the Nazis who are riding on the train. In other words when it is an action movie, it is exciting action movie. The down-time is less interesting. (Do I say that about every action movie? Pretty much; yeah.)

One more thing: Jeanne Moreau is in this, and goddammit I love her. She is not the largest part, but she is riveting for every moment she is onscreen.

And now here's where you start to think I am a crazy person. I also watched Danny DeVito's 1987 film Throw Momma from the Train, which is a kind of comic adaptation (perhaps a spoof) of Hitchcock's masterpiece Strangers on a Train. DeVito directed this comedy and Billy Crystal is the star. And Anne Ramsey got an Academy Award nomination for playing DeVito's hateful, shrill, mustachioed mother. (A nomination that I completely fail to understand. She just screams and looks ugly. Wash your hair!)

I was never into these Billy Crystal comedies – City Slickers, Mr. Saturday Night, etc. – they all are geared toward these life lessons that we're supposed to learn. You know: the importance of friendship and get out of the city and back to nature and family is all that matters. I hate that kind of stuff, mostly because I don't believe any of it. But the real cardinal sin of these films, of course, is that they aren't funny. I mean, this is a problem, guys. (I've posted about this before, so I will shut up about it now.)

There are, sadly, not really a lot of trains in the movie, either, although they are a kind of motif that runs through the whole film.

Okay, one more thing, and it was 1987 so I deserve a break for this, but I kinda thought Billy Crystal was hot in Throw Momma from the Train. Seriously. I mean, it isn't a reason to watch the movie or anything like that, but he really is kinda sexy.