The Great Train Robbery

I prepared for my early class by writing lecture notes. One of my former students wanted to work with me, which I welcomed. I looked at Facebook and thought that some people are spending way too much time on it. I got through my late class and felt relieved that another day of work was over. Back at home, I watched “The Great Train Robbery.” It was from 1978, and it had Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, and Lesley-Anne Down in it. Connery still looked like a pretty young man, and he was pretty good in the role, and he did those dangerous stunts on top of the train himself, according to what I read. The train was going faster than it was supposed to. Sutherland did not convince me that he was British. I guess I could have accepted him in a period movie, based on other appearances, but I have impressions of him from “M*A*S*H” and “Ordinary People.” One of his main tasks was to make keys to open the safe on the train. It was too bad that we didn’t get to see the process of making those keys, because the gang went to so much trouble getting to them. In fact, that’s what the half hour of the movie was about. It had the feel of one of those comedies with Jack Lemmon or Alec Guinness where people had to navigate all sorts of complications to get to a goal. The cinematographer was Geoffrey Unsworth, known for movies like “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The movie did look pretty good, although I felt like the camera was placed too far away from the actors at times. I thought that a lot of the scenes needed more life. They were too much like similar scenes in other movies. The director was Michael Crichton, who was already responsible for movies like “The Andromeda Strain” and “Westworld.” The setting of this movie was 1855, so you might think it wouldn’t have anything in common with something like “Jurassic Park.” However, I thought of both movies as being about the flaws of systems, and namely security systems. The human element fails in both cases. The people who have the four keys have weaknesses. Lesley-Anne uses her beauty. She is like Lesley Ann Warren from “Mission: Impossible.” She also reminded me of Ava Gardner. I think I would have liked seeing Jacqueline Bisset in the role. When I looked at the Roger Ebert review for the movie, I saw that he gave it three out of four stars. I guess that sounds about right for me, too. It’s entertaining but not thrilling. Michael Crichton was married five times from 1965 to 2008. He went to Harvard Medical School. He had lymphoma and was undergoing chemotherapy when he died at age 66. Some of the people who died on September 2 include J.R.R. Tolkien (1973), Bob Denver (2005), and Bill Melendez (2008). Today is a birthday for Mark Harmon (64), Harvey Levin (65), and Terry Bradshaw (67). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for September 2, J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings,” died at age 81 in 1973. In 1988, the Human Rights Now! Tour, benefitting Amnesty International and featuring Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Bruce Springsteen, began. In 1996, Michael Jackson had his final Number One hit, “You Are Not Alone.” In 2005, Bob Denver, star of “Gilligan’s Island,” died in North Carolina at age 70.

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