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This obscure film was originally made for German television as a three-part mini-series under the title Der Postzug-berfall (‘The Mail Train Raid’) and was not released in the UK at the time.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. As the opening credits roll we see shots of Class 40’s passing through the now closed Eglinton Street station in Glasgow, one of which looks to be D257. Although these are pretty good they are then followed by a shot of 4 CEP EMU No.7155 passing through Folkestone West! The opening sequence ends at London St Pancras where we get to see two Class 45’s, with differing headcodes. The robbery sequence has a very improbable railway journey, not to mention the inaccuracy of the robbery itself. The sequence starts with the mail leaving ‘Glasgow’ behind a Class 45, which is actually an express leaving St Pancras again, and this is followed by four night shots of Class 40 hauled expresses on the West Coast main line, one of which has a pair double-heading. 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 (V200-050 for those interested) complete with mock BR emblem on its side!! The German coaching stock is in Royal Mail livery and the cabsides of the loco have wholly spurious E II Royal ciphers. The production team even erected a ‘Sears Crossing’ sign at the side of the railway!! The English railway scenes do not end here, however. There is a later scene showing Horst Tappert boarding a train at Folkestone West, again formed of 4 CEP EMU’s with unit 7124 leading on this occasion. Finally, several electric units are visible in a climatic chase sequence across the rooftops and through the London streets, and these are probably 4 SUB’s. Having been released as a three-part mini-series in Germany, it appears to have then been edited into a single film for eventual UK theatrical release but it is a very shoddy production that, unsurprisingly, lies virtually forgotten.