Review: Von Ryan’s Express

Blu-ray: Von Ryan’s Express (1965)

US pilot Colonel Joseph Ryan (Frank Sinatra) is shot down over enemy territory and placed in a German prisoner of war camp. It is here that he meets Major Eric Fincham (Trevor Howard) who has been in charge of the captured troops in the camp.

Pulling rank on Fincham, Ryan takes charge and initially seems to be far too amiable with the German officers. This leads to him being nicknamed ‘Von Ryan’ by the disgruntled soldiers.

However, Ryan has a plan to help everyone escape camp, and this culminates in a thrilling game of ‘cat and mouse’ as the escaping men make their way across Italy on a commandeered train.

A true classic of cinema, Von Ryan’s Express holds a warm place in my heart, as it was always a favourite movie that myself and my dad would watch together. Never have I seen it look this good though as in this HMV exclusive Premium Collection UK debut Blu-ray release.

Sinatra was infamous for turning up on set, only giving 1 or 2 takes for each shot, and then disappearing until the next day when he was needed. This in no way detracted from his performance though, as he delivers a solid characterisation of a confident, ballsy and intelligent officer who will do anything to get the required outcome that he is seeking. There is also another layer to Ryan’s persona that Sinatra perfectly underplays and comes to the fore in an ending which still gives me goosebumps all these years after my very 1st viewing.

Trevor Howard is superb as Major Fincham; initially pissed off with Ryan and his American bravado, he slowly succumbs to appreciate this fellow soldier both professionally and personally.

The tension is ramped high during act 3 and the escape attempt on the train. Scenes involving British soldiers masquerading as German officers is a well worn trope in war movies, but pulled off with aplomb in Von Ryan’s Express.

Not particularly high on action sequences, yet packed to the gills with a gripping atmosphere and standout performances, Von Ryan’s Express is a movie that should adorn any movie lovers collection, and this is a release with some fantastic special features which surely make it a ‘must buy’.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Isolated Score track with Commentary by Jon Burlingame, Len Dobbs & Nick Redman
  • Reliving The Adventure of Von Ryan’s Express
  • Hollywood & Its War Films
  • The Music of Von Ryan’s Express
  • Bringing Movies to Life: The Legacy of Jerry Goldsmith
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Spanish Trailer
  • TV Spot 1
  • TV Spot 2

This HMV exclusive Premium Collection Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download will be available 13th August 2018.

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Fetch Publicity.