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Union Station (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on November 22, 2012

“You’re gonna send that kid home, aren’t ya, Joe?  I mean after we collect.”
“She’ll go home… if they ever fish her out of the river.  Let’s have the coffee, huh?”

Lieutenant William Calhoun (William Holden) runs a tight ship… or rather, a tight train station.  But then passenger Joyce Willecombe (Nancy Olson) reports a couple of suspicious characters (Lyle Bettger, Don Dunning).  Now Calhoun has stumbled onto the kidnapping of a young blind woman (Allene Roberts) and with the help of Inspector Donnelly (Barry Fitzgerald) has to foil the bad guys without getting the girl killed.

I can’t think of much to add to my first review.  The movie does feel a little routine — and the romantic bit in the capper is beyond forced — but it’s a tight little thriller with some fine elements.  Holden is one of those guys who’s just enjoyable to watch, that crisp edge to his voice makes all his line deliveries sing.  Bettger is exceptionally nasty, and Jan Sterling is fun as his shabby dame.  I also like Fred Graff as the more reluctant kidnapper.  Fitzgerald does his usual sardonic Irish shtick, which is fine if you like that kinda thing.

It’s basically a collection of great scenes with some not-that-great stuff in between.  At its worst, it’s a bit tedious and routine.  But at its best, it’s stylish and brutal and riveting.  The last ten minutes are dynamite, as is the scene with Sterling and the patrolman and the unforgettable stockyard scene.  Ultimately, I feel the good outweighs the mediocre.  Rating: Very Good (84)


2 Responses to “Union Station (rewatch)”

  1. kevlarcardhouse said

    I loved the character of Joyce in this film and her intuitive nature being the major cause of foiling the plans of the criminals on several occasions. Maybe it’s my experience of working in too many bureacratic environments, but nothing feels more real to me than a bunch of officers over-planning their next move only to overlook the obvious, and for the most intelligent member of the group to be a female citizen they struggle to take seriously.

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