Thursday, July 12, 2018

Another overnight train

For those of you with FXM, you'll have a chance to catch Night Train to Paris, tomorrow (July 13) at 4:50 AM.

The movie starts of with a prologue that's standard-issue B spy movie stuff. A nervous older guy transfers a small package, and then stupidly gets into a phone booth to call his boss to tell said boss that he's delivered the package. Another older guy chases down the first guy and garrottes him!

But to an office somewhere in London. This is the office of an airline back in those days when air traffic was heavily regulated, and Alan Holiday (Leslie Nielsen) is manning the office as a public relations man. It's New Year's Eve, so everybody and his brother is trying to get out of England over to the Continent to try to celebrate the holiday. This also means that everything is booked solid and there isn't a ticket to be had. Until Catherine Carrel (Alizia Gur) comes in. She hands Alan an old coin that he's supposed to recognize....

Alan may be doing PR now, but back during the Korean War he had a past in military intelligence. There, he worked with Lemoine (Hugh Latimer), who is still working as a spy. Apparently, he's in charge of getting the package from the prologue out of the country. It's a tape containing information about western defense plans or something. (Really, it's a macguffin; it could be almost anything small enough and nontoxic.) After a bit of wangling, the plan is to get some tickets on the overnight boat train with a group of models going to the French Alps for a photo shoot. But that second older guy who garrotted the first older guy is still around killing people, up to getting Lemoine, in Alan's apartment! Poor Alan has to continue Lemoine's scheme, if only to avoid the murder rap.

So Alan and Catherine get on that train, Alan impersonating a photographer, with a bunch of models; the group running the shoot has the word "bear" in its name, so with that and the holiday the guy running the shoot is dressed in a bear costume, head and all so that normally nobody can see his head. The old strangler also gets on the train, and it's a race against time as everybody tries to get that tape and stay alive. Oh, and there are the authorities, too.

I mentioned at the beginning that the prologue is standard-issue B spy movei stuff, and the rest of the movie proceeds along those lines. There's nothing particularly wrong with the material, but there's nothing particularly memorable either, above and beyond the fact that it's Leslie Nielsen as the male lead. Audiences of tody will remember him from Airplane! and the following spoofs, but before that he actually had a serious acting career. It's fun to watch him play things straight. The other worthwhile thing Night Train to Paris is the look at vintage London.

In the end, Night Train to Paris is one of those movies that will entertain you for the hour or so that it's on, and then fade into obscurity. But at least it does entertain.

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