Stop Train 349 (1963)

Stop Train 349 (Verspätung in Marienborn)
Directed by Rold Hädrich
Written by Jim Henaghan, Victor Vicas and Norman Borisoff from a story by Will Tremper
1963/France/Italy/West Germany
Da Ma Produzione/ Hans Oppenheimer Film/Hoche Productions et al
First viewing/Amazon Instant

There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin. – John F. Kennedy, 1963

After a somewhat cheesy opening, this topical political thriller works really well.

By treaty, the East Germans allowed the U.S. Army to operate a sealed train between West Berlin and West Germany, crossing East German territory.  On this run of the train there is an unscheduled stop within East Germany and a East German escapee jumps onto the train.  A sympathetic nurse unlocks a sealed door and attempts to hide him.

This doesn’t work too well because an obnoxious and nosy U.S. journalist (Jose Ferrer) is soon onto a story.  At the border between East and West Berlin the train is again stopped by East German and Soviet authorities demanding the refugee, which the Army denies harboring.  Tense negotiations ensue.

After the introductory bad “theme song” with shots of Berlin this becomes a taut thriller. One is really unsure of the fate of the refugee to the very end.  The negotiations struck me as very realistic.  Recommended to those looking for an obscure gem.  I watched a dubbed  version.

Clip – does not reflect the quality or tone of the rest of the film