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(YouTube) Video Saturday Cinema, Runaway Train, 1985 - Two escaped cons and a railworker are stuck on a speeding driverless train in Alaska. The pre-crazy John Voight stars with a walk-on by Dan Trejo   ( divider line
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1108 clicks; posted to Video » on 16 Aug 2014 at 12:40 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2014-08-16 11:14:58 AM
Menachem Golan died a few days ago. He was the king of action films in the 1980s. Back then a movie of the week might be shot for, say, two million bucks. He'd produce films by finding an interesting headline, getting an artist to make a poster and then selling the film based upon that.

Golan made a lot of crap but he had some winners amidst the dross such as Chuck Norris. He also was occasionally was so busy juggling the overly complex finances that eventually brought him to ruin that good films were cranked out when no-one was looking.

Runaway Train was co-written 15 years previously by Akira Kurosawa and based on an actual 1975  incident when a train rattled off by itself. Anyone who's read a newspaper about the terrible incident in Lac Megantic where a train slipped off its brakes and burned 45 people alive last year will know how deadly these rare runaways can be.  The great Japanese director had hoped to shoot in in America on the East coast but production difficulties resulted in him backing away from the project. His casting ideas included Henry Fonda as the railway man and Peter Falk as an escaped prisoner.

Eventually  John Voight and Eric Roberts were cast as escaped prisoners. Both of their performances garnered one of three Oscar nods for the film along with a technical award for editing.
Siskel and Ebert had different opinions of the film. Here's a longer version of the clip in the Siskel and Ebert interview.

Here's another clip.

Production Manager Stephen Marsh has said of this film's production: " We had to start by shooting all the second unit footage in Alaska and Montana. That meant that we had two sets of engines that did not quite match so we had to disguise them with plywood, paint and pretend snow. The main body of the picture was shot in Los Angeles. We built two of the units on stage and shot using back projection techniques. We also built the whole train two more times in two scales of miniature. These miniatures worked for the crash scenes which we shot in a disused winery in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Once all this footage was cut together I think you will agree that the illusion was quite complete."

Director of Photography Alan Hume and his camera crew put their cameras in odd and different positions so as to make the movie look uncomposed as though a news crew was doing its best to film a real event in a cramped location. Once in studio, complete mockups of the locomotive and cars with working gauges and gear were built.

That aside the generally good effects and sets were not perfect. Reflections reveal the presence of studio lights in some scenes and there are some obvious cuts to in studio work on some of the exteriors. Moreover when the ill-fated engineer notches out the throttle on the lead engine, the reverser handle can be seen in neutral.

I don't want to ruin the ending for you but the train becomes part of the cast and the ending is quite beautiful. If you haven't seen it don't click.

When the film was remastered for DVD a version that had accidentally been trimmed was used.

Here's a Link to Last weeks Saturday cinema.
Next Week's Saturday just has a funny man early in his film career when no-one knew quite what to do with him yet.
2014-08-16 11:21:56 AM  
Thanks,  gaslight. A solid film.
2014-08-16 11:55:31 AM  
Absofarking great film. Eric Roberts was amazing.

"Shoes! I need shoes Manny!"

Or something like that IIRC
2014-08-16 12:02:13 PM  
Great write-up Gaslight, thanks.
2014-08-16 12:15:41 PM  

IamKaiserSoze!!!: Absofarking great film. Eric Roberts was amazing.

"Shoes! I need shoes Manny!"

Or something like that IIRC

Now I need socks ! I need faking socks !

I remember this from way back. I had no idea it was a Golan flick because it was actually decent.
2014-08-16 12:45:05 PM  
Mr. Olivetti loves this film. Thanks for the background.
2014-08-16 12:57:21 PM  

IamKaiserSoze!!!: Absofarking great film. Eric Roberts was amazing.

Maybe you can help me out. I saw part of a film that was on TV when I was nibbling a breakfast in a greasy spoon restaurant. I think Roberts was in it OR maybe it was Robert Davi. The film seemed to radiate stupidity and although the sound was off, it appeared to be about a spy/gangster/casino operator who when not running his casino, was spying on gangsters or being a gangster spy who spied on gangster who were spies.

Ring any bells?

Roberts is one of those lucky actors who never seems to stop working. Even when he's playing generic roles he's interesting. For example, the gangster he plays in Dark Knight he plays was great casting because he could hold his own against the silliness of having an argument with a man in a diving suit and cape.
2014-08-16 01:15:20 PM  
I think this was Eric Roberts' best work.

It was also notable at the time for Rebecca De Mornay having no (or very little) make up.
2014-08-16 01:33:50 PM  

RoyBatty: I think this was Eric Roberts' best work.

It was also notable at the time for Rebecca De Mornay having no (or very little) make up.

I was living in Alaska when they were filming this. Huge news when the stars arrived for location shooting.

/And you couldn't find a copy of Risky Business at the video store to save your life.
2014-08-16 04:35:55 PM  
Great movie. Haven't seen it in ages. It sits just to the right of Runaway Jury on my shelf.
2014-08-16 05:08:07 PM  
that's Danny Trejo to you, cochon
2014-08-16 05:17:03 PM  
Fun Fact: Elwy Yost, Canada's one-man Siskel, Ebert & Leonard Maltin-would read Akira Kurosawa's original "Runaway Train" script aloud to his sons as a bedtime story(it was originally gonna be a passenger train, it was inspired by this case & a CNJ Alco that got loose) ag e&q&f=true

...years later when Graham Yost was a screenwriter in Hollywood he would think constantly about the Kurasowa script & how he could rework it, & that's how he came up with "Speed"
2014-08-16 05:51:37 PM  
2014-08-16 07:50:58 PM  
Excellent movie! First time I saw this was back in the 80's when it came on cable "movie" channels.
Had never seen Roberts or Voight before this. I love the cold/gritty movies and you could tell it was
cold as hell and that snow was the real deal.

Also, Voight's friend in prison who gets stabbed, Jonah, is Eddie Bunker. Better known as Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs.
2014-08-16 08:07:15 PM  
"I told you it was his car! I knew it!"

--George Costanza
2014-08-16 08:08:06 PM  
sigh.  What I should have said was,

Ladies and gentlemen, we at fark are all honored to see the first guest headline submitted by George Costohforgetitdammitsomuch
2014-08-17 03:51:31 AM  
ckevinc Also, Voight's friend in prison who gets stabbed, Jonah, is Eddie Bunker. Better known as Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs.

Edward Bunker & Danny Trejo had no idea each was on the film 'til they were on location in Alaska.  They knew each other going back 2 the 1950's inside San Quentin...
2014-08-17 05:45:05 AM  
I thought this was one of Voight's best performances...
2014-08-17 11:08:37 AM  
So we're just calling him Dan now?
2014-08-17 03:18:18 PM  
I absolutely loved this movie.  Jon Voight and Eric Roberts were awesome.  DeMornay?  Eh, I wish they would have left that character out completely.  But this movie had one of the best ending scenes of all time.  OF ALL TIME!

And this scene was a close second:

Manny: That's bullshiat. You're not gonna do nothin' like that. I'll tell you what you gonna do. You gonna get a job. That's what you gonna do. You're gonna get a little job. Some job a convict can get, like scraping off trays in a cafeteria. Or cleaning out toilets. And you're gonna hold onto that job like gold. Because it is gold. Let me tell you, Jack, that is gold. You listenin' to me? And when that man walks in at the end of the day. And he comes to see how you done, you ain't gonna look in his eyes. You gonna look at the floor. Because you don't want to see that fear in his eyes when you jump up & grab his face, and slam him to the floor, and make him scream & cry for his life. So you look right at the floor, Jack. Pay attention to what I'm sayin', motherfarker! And then he's gonna look around the room - see how you done. And he's gonna say "Oh, you missed a little spot over there. Jeez, you didn't get this one here. What about this little bitty spot?" And you're gonna suck all that pain inside you, and you're gonna clean that spot. And you're gonna clean that spot. Until you get that shiny clean. And on Friday, you pick up your paycheck. And if you could do that, if you could do that, you could be president of Chase Manhattan... corporations! If you could do that.
Buck: Not me, man! I wouldn't do that kind of shiat. I'd rather be in farkin' jail.
Manny: More's the pity, youngster. More's the pity.
Buck: Could you do that kind of shiat?
Manny: I wish I could.
2014-08-17 03:50:55 PM  
I'm closer to Siskel than Ebert on leaving DeMornay out. There's no issue with making her a woman but doing so brings nothing in particular to the the table for the characters to react to. I mean, there reaction to her presence should have been more nuanced because, well, they've been in prison for years. It could have been better written. Perhaps a different actress could have done more. Not that DeMornay was 'wrong' or unskilled (mind you, she's been a lot of nothing special films) but while she's great at looking scared ... she's so far behind the other gents on the train that she's an also ran.

Obscene_CNN: Plug:

Great link! Nice to see TimeRider on there. It was always in the video stores when I was a kid and I never saw it. Having looked at your link, I will now safely remove it from the Saturday Cinema to do list.
2014-08-17 05:40:45 PM  

lifeboat: this movie had one of the best ending scenes of all time.

this x a billion.
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