The Monuments Men (2014) vs The Train (1964) contrasts two movies with the same general subject but one is vastly superior to the other in almost every category.
The Monument Men (2014) came to the screen last year and it’s not a bad movie. It has an all-star cast and it’s based on a true story. All through World War II, the Nazis were busy looting and destroying the treasures of Europe. Many Nazis wanted to take these treasures back for their personal collections but others were simply destroyed for spite or for so-called “Aryan purity.” The Allied governments deployed teams of historians and art experts to track down and save these irreplaceable treasures.
The Monument Men (2014) is a good movie and I would recommend that everyone watch the movie. I mean George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murphy, Bob Balaban, John Goodman, and Matt Damon; how can you go wrong? But, well, they missed it by just a bit. Besides a little sexual tension between Blanchett and Damon, you don’t really care about the characters. The story drags and the tempo is all over the place. Sometimes they try for comedy, others drama, and at other times a standard war film. Like I said, it’s a good movie, it’s just not great.
Another movie that tells the story of the Nazis trying to steal European art is the The Train (1964). I could not recommend this movie anymore if they were paying me and they are not paying me. This film has the king of American actors, Burt Lancaster, as Labiche, the head engineer in a train yard. He is also active in the resistance. At first, he will not help to protect the art as he fails to see the value. But true to form, the Nazis force him into the role of savior.
Paul Scofield is masterful as the Nazi officer obsessed with getting the art to Germany regardless of the cost. Scofield is such a good actor that the evil just flows out of him.
Lancaster shows his acrobatic skills as well as his considerable acting chops. And then there are the trains. This movie was one of the last of the black and whites. It was filmed mostly in France and contains many non-American actors. They used real trains for the chases and the crashes and it’s very exciting.
Watch The Train (1964) you will not be disappointed.
Oh one more thing: John Frankenheimer directed The Train (1964).