THE GREAT BRITISH TRAIN ROBBERY

GER
1967
1hr 44mins
Dirs: John Olden and Claus Peter Witt
Starring: Horst Tappert and Hans Cossy

A recreation of the 1963 Great Train Robbery told in almost documentary style from the view of the robbers

This obscure film was originally made for German television as a three-part mini-series under the title Der Postzug-berfall (The Mail Train Raid) and was not released in the UK at the time. No doubt the film was deemed somewhat insensitive, it being only four years after the actual robbery having taken place, though The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery (qv) appeared a year earlier and mocked the situation somewhat. The problem seemed to stem from the fact that the villains were clearly and definitively portrayed in the film, despite the change of names. The fact that the film was being recorded in some secrecy under the title Die Gentlemen Bitten zur Kasse (Gentlemen Prefer Cash) made no difference. The producers had permission to film on the DB railway network but did not inform the authorities what the movie was about, yet despite the film being a German production there are some British railway scenes, though the continuity is very poor. Some filming took place around Folkestone on the Kent Coast of all places, which probably explains the presence of a Southern Region Class 411 4 CEP EMU in the credits sequence. As well as the 4 CEP, the film starts with an opening view of London St Pancras station with a Class 45 leaving on an express and an ex-SR 4 SUB EMU appears later in the movie. The robbery scene itself though has a very improbable railway journey, not to mention the inaccuracy of the robbery itself. The train shots are as follows: the mail leaves ‘Glasgow’ behind a split-box Class 45, which is actually an express leaving St Pancras again; a passing shot of a Class 40 on an express; a pair of Class 40s double-heading an express; and then back to a single Class 40 again. The gang then rig up a false signal to stop the train and as the scene was filmed in Germany, the train is now made up of continental rolling stock and arrives behind a DB V200 Class diesel-hydraulic complete with mock lion and wheel BR emblem on its side!! Having been released as a three-part mini-series in Germany, it appears to have then been edited into a single film for the UK theatrical release. However, the movie is a rarity that appears difficult to find and although it was shown on some late-night UK TV schedules in the 1990s it now appears to have completely disappeared. Those who have watched it though say that it was a pretty shoddy production.