Exciting Victorian Heist - "The Great Train Robbery"

 The Great Train Robbery

Judge: Why did you conceive of a plan and execute this dastardly and scandalous crime?

Edward Pierce: I wanted the money!




"The Great Train Robbery" this movie was released on 14 December 1978. Directed by Michael Crichton. The movie is based on the novel of Michael Crichton, "The Great Train Robbery" and the screenplay is also by him. This movie is loosely inspired by the real-life Great Gold Robbery of 1885 when £ 12000 worth of gold was stolen from a London Bridge train bound to Paris. It Starred Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland in lead characters.

In 1885, England and France were at war with Russia in Crimea. The English troops were paid in gold. Once in the month £ 25,000 in gold was loaded into strongboxes, inside the London bank of Huddleston and Bradford and taken by trusted armed guards to the railway station. At the station, the gold was loaded into the luggage van of the Folkstone train, for shipment to the coast and from there to Crimea. The strongboxes were placed in two specially-built strong safes constructed of three-quarter inch thick tempered steel. Each safe was fitted with two locks requiring two keys. Alternatively, four keys altogether. At the time of shipment out of four keys, two keys were entrusted to the railway dispatcher, who kept them in lock-in his office, a third was in the custody of Mr. Edgar Trent, President of the Huddleston and Bradford bank, and the fourth key was given to Mr. Henry Fowler, manager of the Huddleston and Bradford Bank, Nevertheless, no one has ever robbed a moving train before.
Sean Connery as Edward Pierce is a charming person, respected in the upper strata of 1885 London society, but he is a criminal mastermind. He listens to the boast about how gold shipment is safe and four keys are separately guarded. A cool head, Pierce plots to steal the gold bullion from the moving train.



Edward Pierce, comes up with the plan, solicits the help of his accomplices, pick-pocket, and lock-smith called Agar (Donald  Sutherland) and a beautiful mistress Miriam (Lesley- Anne Down). Train guard Burgess, is bribed into participation. The first thought comes to his mind that the President and Manager of Huddleston and Bradford Bank, must have weakness of Gambling, drink, and women.

Edward Pierce and Agar have to search out the location of the four keys and so as not to arouse suspicion under any circumstances they decide to make wax impressions of the keys.
Their first target is Mr. Edgar Trent, President of  Huddleston and Bradford Bank. Pierce discovers Trent's routine and his weakness. His second wife Emily is 30 years his junior. Living with her unmarried stepdaughter. she runs the household very strictly, there are ten servants employed. all the servants are content and cannot be bribed. He meets Mr. Edgar who introduces him to his daughter Elizabeth, who is very much fond of flowers, Pierce shows interest in flowers to come close to Elizabeth. While having a conversation with her, she reveals that her father always nervous when he sends the gold to Crimea. He bears a very heavy responsibility, due to which he acts strangely at times. He is entirely opposed to the consumption of any alcohol before nightfall. For each morning of the shipments, he goes alone to the wine cellars, with no servants holding the lantern. He is insisting on going alone. Pierce gets a clue that he keeps the key somewhere in the wine cellar. 
Mr. Henry Flowler while bragging, tells how much he cared for the key, reveals that he keeps the key on his neck, he wears it at all times.  Edward Pierce focuses on Mr. Henry Flowler and discovers his weakness for a prostitute. Their partner Miriam is entrusted with the task of subduing him posing as Madam Lucienne. She tells him to take off his clothes and key around his neck. Filled with lust, he does as told. Pierce and Agar take the key impressions on the wax.
They are successful in getting the wax impression of two keys. Now remaining two chubb keys in a green cupboard were entrusted to the railway dispatcher. To get the key to the cupboard they plan the drama of a small boy stealing the purse of Miriam, and then the boy runs into the railway dispatcher's office, where Pierce and Agar go behind him in this clout, Agar makes a wax impression of keys off the cupboard.
Pierce and Agar discover that the night duty train Dispatcher talks to the constable making his rounds but he does not leave the place. Then at 2 o'clock drinks his beer and exactly at 2.30, he goes off to relieve himself from his bottle of beer. however, the time he goes off to when he comes back and it has been the same three nights running a regular block. That is 75 seconds.
Pierce and Agar undergo many rehearsals to reach the cupboard. 
Their intricate plans are ready and patiently prepare for the big day. The last act is the actual heist. A seemingly impossible task, the entire train sequence is incredibly thrilling. 
There are strong performances by Sean Connery and Lesley-Anne Down. Comic relief comes in the form of Donald Sutherland with his superb acting.
The Victorian costumes and decors conjure up memories of Victorian times and it looks great.
"The Great Train Robbery" is marvelously photographed against a gorgeous Irish countryside backdrop.
The story is straightforward and simple also well directed by Michael Crichton.







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