Streamline Express (1935)

Article 2287 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-29-2007
Posting Date: 11-15-2007
Directed by Leonard Fields
Featuring Evelyn Venable, Victor Jory, Sidney Blackmer

A theatre director manages to sneak aboard a new superspeed train destined for California in order to convince his leading actress not to run away and get married.

The first ten minutes of this movie is so full of hokey dialogue and bad writing that it’s a little amazing that it eventually won me back, but it did. For one thing, the writing does get better. For another thing, Victor Jory is having so much fun in a comic role that I started to have fun, too. it also helps that there is some snappy comic banter that netted a few laughs for me, particularly during the conversation where he convinces a steward to allow him to take over his position on the train. The plot is pretty silly, but it makes do. The fantastic content is the superspeed train; it’s somewhat similar to the super airplane in NON-STOP NEW YORK (a much better movie, by the way), but you only see the train from the outside during some static shots near the beginning of the film, so you never actually see it on the move, which is a real disappointment. This is supposedly a low-budget remake of the previous year’s TWENTIETH CENTURY, though that movie has no fantastic elements; I haven’t seen that movie, but knowing that it was directed by Howard Hawks makes me understand why a remake would try to capture his gift for fast-moving dialogue. My favorite moment; the passengers are being searched for a missing gem, the person who has it hides it in his drink, and while he’s being searched, the nonstop drinker comes along, sees the unattended glass, and… well, it just gets more complicated from there.



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