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Home / Night Train to the Cinema
All aboard, movie lovers! Take the “Night Train to the Cinema” and be transported to the Wild West, Memphis, Germany, Hong Kong and more. Throughout this series, we’ll be showing some of our favorite films revolving around railway transportation. Covering eight decades of tracks, these movies capture the excitement and allure of traveling by train. Adventure, danger and romance await!
In Sergio Leone’s epic 1968 Spaghetti Western ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Charles Bronson plays a mysterious stranger who arrives in town just in time to settle the score with a ruthless rail baron. Leone’s signature style provides good, gunslinging fun and a suspenseful shoot-out between Bronson and Henry Fonda.
The suspense continues with Alfred Hitchcock’s perfect thriller STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951). A famous tennis player with dreams of divorcing his difficult wife (by any means necessary) meets a passenger with a similar conundrum and inadvertently sets off a double murder scheme. But who’s really guilty?
Adding to the intrigue is Jim Jarmusch’s 1989 anthology film MYSTERY TRAIN. Here we stop at a seedy motel in Memphis, Tennessee to see how three separate stories come together. Emboldened by the spirit of Elvis Presley, each story comprising MYSTERY TRAIN reveals the romance between traveler and unfamiliar city.
Dreamy contemplation is traded for sheer terror in the aptly named TERROR TRAIN (1980). It’s “Halloween on a train” starring scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis in this terrifying film about a hazing prank gone very wrong. Several years after the deadly incident, those involved are on a collision course with the past.
The encounters in LES RENDEZ-VOUS D’ANNA (1978) are far less frightening and far less personal, following one woman’s voyage to Germany and her intent on showing her latest film. The detached director travels to different cities, meeting various locals who share their revelations with her, but after returning to Paris, indifference remains her only travel token.
It’s back to Germany with 1964’s THE TRAIN, in which a locomotive loaded with priceless French art heading for the Nazis must be stopped by the Resistance — without any damage to the cargo. NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (1940) is a twisting tale of espionage full of adventure and set at a breakneck pace. The noir BERLIN EXPRESS (1948) focuses on an innocent group of passengers traveling from France to Berlin who find themselves entrenched in a post-WWII assassination plot.
Offering a much-needed rest stop is silent comedy THE GENERAL (1926) with Buster Keaton playing a bumbling railroad engineer. The levity chugs ahead with the 1992 Hong Kong action comedy SUPERCOP starring Jackie Chan as an undercover detective.
Where’s a supercop when you need one? In 1974’s THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE, a subway car is hijacked and the passengers taken for ransom. Walter Matthau plays the lucky policeman tasked with delivering the ransom in time.
Hitchcock’s THE LADY VANISHES (1938), written by NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH screenwriters Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, is a quick-witted delight about a young girl-turned-investigator who seems to be the only one who notices when an elderly woman disappears from a moving train.
In Wes Anderson’s THE DARJEELING LIMITED (2007), three estranged brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) set out on a soul-searching train ride across India a year after their father’s passing. Humorous, warm, and visually stunning, THE DARJEELING LIMITED captures every meandering emotion and locale beautifully.
In Robert Aldrich’s Depression-set EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (1973), a brutal train conductor seeks vengeance against the best train hopper around — culminating in a violent showdown.
Based on a screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, 1985’s RUNAWAY TRAIN hurtles through the Alaskan snow, leaving you wondering if two escaped convicts can survive a driverless train and a helicopter police chase.
With epic war romance DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965), the danger lies not only in the Russian Revolution, but also in the love triangle between Dr. Zhivago and the two women who have fallen for him.
Every film in this series aims to capture the adventure and excitement of boarding a train and heading off into the unknown. Stow away your carry-on and prepare for a month-long journey through the cinematic expanse.
Program notes by Kayla Cummings
$8.00 (member) ; $13.00 (general admission)
Aero Theatre | Part of the Night Train to Aero Theatre series
Los Feliz 3 | In 35mm
Aero Theatre | In 35mm
Los Feliz 3 | In 35mm
Aero Theatre | Double Feature
Los Feliz 3 | Part of the “Night Train to the Cinema” series
$8.00 (member) ; $13 (general admission)
Los Feliz 3 | Program begins with a live recording of the Greg Proops Film Club podcast. Feature starts at 7:30 PM
Los Feliz 3 | Part of our “Night Train to the Cinema” series