The Great Train Robbery (1979) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Train Robbery1979

The Great Train Robbery (1979)



Critic Consensus: Laboriously paced and overly talky, The Great Train Robbery nevertheless pulls off a thrillingly staged finale anchored by winning performances from Donald Sutherland and Sean Connery.

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Movie Info

Not a remake of the landmark 1903 Edwin S. Porter film, The Great Train Robbery is a dramatization of the famous first hold-up of a moving train in 1855 England. The conspirators in this undertaking are Edward Pierce (Sean Connery), Agar (Donald Sutherland) and Clean Willy (Wayne Sleep). Pierce is the brains, Clean Willy the brawn, and safecracker Agar provides the finesse. The scheme involves stealing a shipment of gold bars intended to be used in the payroll for the Army in the Crimean War. Lesley Anne Down co-stars as Miriam, the woman on the outside who arranges Connery's getaway. When released in England, this film was titled The First Great Train Robbery, so as not to be confused with Britain's embarrassing 1963 railroad heist. Director Michael Crichton adapted the story from his own, more-clinical novel on the same subject. Filmed in Ireland, The Great Train Robbery was dedicated to the memory of its director of photography, Geoffrey Unsworth, who died shortly after the production wrapped. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Sean Connery
as Edward Pierce
Alan Webb
as Edgar Trent
Malcolm Terris
as Henry Fowler
Robert Lang
as Insp. Sharp
Wayne Sleep
as Clean Willy
Pamela Salem
as Emily Trent
Gabrielle Lloyd
as Elizabeth Trent
John Bett
as McPherson
James Cossins
as Insp. Harranby
Peter Benson
as Station Dispatcher
Clive Swift
as Mr. Chubb
Brian Glover
as Capt. Jimmy
Agnes Bernelle
as Woman on Platform
Brian de Salvo
as Trent's Butler
Joe Cahill
as Rail Guard
Derry Power
as Workman in Chubb's Workshop
Susan Hallinan
as Emma Barnes
John Dunne
as Boy Thief
Cecil Nash
as Chaplain
Donald Churchill
as Prosecutor
Oliver Smith
as Ratting Assistant
Jenny Till
as Woman on Strand
John Altman
as First Pickpocket
Paul Kernber
as Second Pickpocket
Paul Kember
as Second Pickpocket
Geoff Ferris
as Third Pickpocket
Craig Stokes
as Urchin on Strand
Noel Johnson
as Connaught
Donald Hewlett
as Club Member
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Critic Reviews for The Great Train Robbery

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (7)

Crichton is after a giggly quality as if it's being told as a pub yarn, soaked in exaggeration and acute trickery to defeat impossible hurdles, while never far from redoubtable moral lesson.

November 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Crichton's films drag in dialog bouts, but triumph when action takes over.

July 30, 2008 | Full Review…

The characters stay largely undeveloped, while -- despite superficially peculiar features -- the robbery is stripped of the ingenious exposition of the novel.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

he climactic heist of the gold, with Mr. Connery climbing atop the moving railroad cars, ducking under bridges just before a possible decapitation, is marvelous action footage that manages to be very funny as it takes your breath away.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 4/5

Imbued with the spirit of the '60s and '70s counterculture.

May 3, 2005 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Connery is one of the best light comedians in the movies, and has been ever since those long-ago days when he was James Bond.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Great Train Robbery

Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland star in this adventure/heist bit, spiced with witty dialogue and lively action scenes. Michael Crichton, of Jurassic Park fame, helms this, one of his earlier forays, and does quite well. Worthy of your time.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Oh, so boring... Sure there's a good cast, but they're not even doing anything exciting anyway.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Not the most intriguiging of robbery/hiest movies, but clever all the same. It plodded along slowly but at an entertaining pace, interesting to see a robbery/hiest for it's the period it covered and with a little humour injected in to it and a likeable performance by Sean Connery, it all turned into a watchable kind of film.

Lady D'arbanville
Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

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