Monday, November 23, 2015

Von Ryan's Express and Undying Hope

Von Ryan's Express: MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't seen Von Ryan's Express since it was released in 1965, and you don't want the ending spoiled for you, stop reading right now.

Saturday evening I was watching, AGAIN, Von Ryan's Express starring Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard. I've seen it "a few" times now.

Sinatra is the top ranking Allied officer in a prisoner of war camp in Italy. He is attempting to take the prisoners to freedom over the Italian Alps by rail and runs into a number of troubles along the way.

Towards the end, the Luftwaffe has destroyed a section of track. It's now necessary to delay the German's follow on train while the prisoners repair the track so they can move on.

They take a piece of rail from behind their train. This also makes it impossible for the German's to follow them by rail.

The German troops de-train and attack the prisoners as they put the final touches on the rail repair. Their numbers greatly outnumber the prisoners' firepower.

There's Colonel Frank, leading the delaying action so the train can move forward. All of the surviving prisoners have made it onto the train, except Frank. And as it moves on, Frank is running.

The prisoners reach out to Frank from the rear of the train so he can grab their hands and be pulled to safety. Frank grasps; the prisoners grasp.

But alas, the Germans shoot Frank down dead and he ends up lying prone between the tracks as the prisoners stare dejectedly from the rear of the train. The Germans stare dejectedly at the rear of the receding train.

Every time I watch this, I yell out to Frank, "Run! Run a little faster". I think, "maybe this time he'll make it. Maybe this time he'll defy all logic and outrun those bullets coming at his back".

But nope, it never works. Frank doesn't run faster. Frank gasps in fatigue with arms outstretched as the bullets tear into him from behind. Frank ends up dead on the tracks.

Isn't it a great movie that you can watch over and over again and still enjoy it? Isn't it a great movie that provides such drama, that even though you know how it ends, you hope against hope that maybe this time, it just might end a little differently?

No comments: