Runaway Train (1985)

R | 111 mins | Adventure | 6 December 1985

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HISTORY

The film concludes with the following quote: “'No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.' – Richard III, William Shakespeare."
       According to the 1 Jul 1966 Film Daily, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was co-producing The Runaway Train with Embassy Pictures, and production was set to begin in Oct 1966 in NY, and continue for sixteen weeks. The project would feature an all-American cast, and be the first color film for Kurosawa. A fall 1967 release date was expected. Kurosawa co-wrote the screenplay with Ryuzo Kikushima and Hideo Oguni, which would be adapted into English by Sidney Carroll. The script was based on a 1963 Life Magazine article by Warren Young about a true event which occurred on the New York Central Railroad between Syracuse and Rochester, NY. Film Daily reported that Kurosawa’s production would mark the first time a Japanese director would produce a film outside of Japan.
       For unknown reasons, the project was shelved for over fifteen years, until the 3 Mar 1981 HR announced that Kurosawa’s script would be produced in Canada as a co-production between Cambridge Film Group Ltd., Marlow Productions, Somerville House of Toronto, and Nippon Herald Films of Japan. The $5 million picture was scheduled to begin production in Oct or Nov 1981. However, the 30 Mar 1982 HR reported that principal photography would begin in Dec 1982 in Canada. Andrei Konchalovsky was set to direct, after he was recommended to Akira Kurosawa by Francis Ford Coppola.
       According ... More Less

The film concludes with the following quote: “'No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.' – Richard III, William Shakespeare."
       According to the 1 Jul 1966 Film Daily, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was co-producing The Runaway Train with Embassy Pictures, and production was set to begin in Oct 1966 in NY, and continue for sixteen weeks. The project would feature an all-American cast, and be the first color film for Kurosawa. A fall 1967 release date was expected. Kurosawa co-wrote the screenplay with Ryuzo Kikushima and Hideo Oguni, which would be adapted into English by Sidney Carroll. The script was based on a 1963 Life Magazine article by Warren Young about a true event which occurred on the New York Central Railroad between Syracuse and Rochester, NY. Film Daily reported that Kurosawa’s production would mark the first time a Japanese director would produce a film outside of Japan.
       For unknown reasons, the project was shelved for over fifteen years, until the 3 Mar 1981 HR announced that Kurosawa’s script would be produced in Canada as a co-production between Cambridge Film Group Ltd., Marlow Productions, Somerville House of Toronto, and Nippon Herald Films of Japan. The $5 million picture was scheduled to begin production in Oct or Nov 1981. However, the 30 Mar 1982 HR reported that principal photography would begin in Dec 1982 in Canada. Andrei Konchalovsky was set to direct, after he was recommended to Akira Kurosawa by Francis Ford Coppola.
       According to the 25 May 1985 Screen International, Kurosawa had planned to direct the picture until he became ill. The project then changed hands to the Cannon Group’s Henry Weinstein. The 19 Jul 1983 DV announced that newly formed Weinstein/Skyfield Productions was co-producing the film with Aussie Channel groups, to be filmed in Australia in early 1984 with an $8-9 million budget. Reportedly, Avco-Embassy Pictures had put the film in “turnaround,” and film rights reverted to Nippon Herald. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Paul Zindel was hired to rewrite Kurosawa’s original screenplay, and director Andrei Konchalovsky was in talks with actor Robert Duvall to star in the picture.
       The 9 Feb 1985 Screen International reported that actors Jon Voight and Eric Roberts had been cast in the leading roles. Production was set to begin in Montana in Mar 1985. However, principal photography actually began on 25 Feb 1985, according to the 12 Mar 1985 HR production chart.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files list locations at the Old Montana Territorial Prison in Deer Lodge, MT. Additional locations included Alaska, and soundstage work at S&A Studios and the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA.
       In preparation for his character, Jon Voight visited San Quentin prison, where he spent time with inmates, according to production notes. He changed his physical appearance, making his nostrils wider with obstructions, and wearing a set of fake, stained teeth to morph into the role of “Manny.”
       Principal photography was completed on 29 May 1985, according to a Cannon Films publicity announcement dated 17 Jun 1985.
       Runaway Train received three Academy Award nominations: Jon Voight for Actor in a Leading Role, Eric Roberts for Actor in a Supporting Role, and Henry Richardson for Film Editing.
       End credits include the following acknowledgements: “Special thanks to: Alaskan Film Commission, Alaskan Railroads, Montana Film Commission, B.A.P. Railroads, and the People of Whittier.” Also noted: “This film is dedicated to the memory of Rick Holley.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily News
19 Feb 1986.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1983
p. 1, 24.
Film Daily
1 Jul 1966
p. 1, 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1981
p. 1, 25.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1985
p. 3, 57.
Los Angeles Times
6 Dec 1985
p. 12.
New York Times
6 Dec 1985
p. 8.
Screen International
9 Feb 1985.
---
Screen International
25 May 1985.
---
Variety
4 Dec 1985
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
The Cannon Group, Inc. Presents
in a Golan-Globus Production
for Northbrook Films
of an Andrei Konchalovsky Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
D.G.A. trainee
2d unit dir, Alaska 2d unit
1st asst dir, Alaska 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Based on a scr by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d cam op
2d cam op
1st asst cam
Loader
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec
Elec
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Grip
Stills photog
Stills photog
Video asst tech
Video playback by
Dir of photog, Alaska 2d unit
Cam op, Alaska 2d unit
1st asst cam, Alaska 2d unit
Key grip, Alaska 2d unit
Best boy grip, Alaska 2d unit
Grip, Alaska 2d unit
Grip, Alaska 2d unit
Grip, Alaska 2d unit
Cams and lenses by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Storyboard artist
Lead art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art asst, Alaska 2d unit
Art asst, Alaska 2d unit
Art asst, Alaska 2d unit
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Prop master
Prop asst
Head scenic artist
Scenic artist (Alaska)
Scenic artist (Alaska)
Set painter
Set painter
Set painter
Lead carpenter
Asst set dresser
Asst set dresser
Const coord
Const coord, Alaska 2d unit
Set dec/Props, Alaska 2d unit
Lead carpenter, Alaska 2d unit
Set const by
COSTUMES
Cost des
Key cost
Costumer
Ward, Alaska 2d unit
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Asst to the composer
Mus rec & mixed at
Mixer, C.T.S. Studios, Wembley
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Train sd eff
Sd ed
Dial ed
A.D.R ed
Electronic sd eff created by
Electronic sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd mixer, Alaska 2d unit
Post prod facilities and re-rec by
Mixer, Pinewood Studios
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Asst spec eff
Asst spec eff
Asst spec eff
Spec eff, Alaska 2d unit
Spec eff, Alaska 2d unit
Spec eff, Alaska 2d unit
Spec eff asst, Alaska 2d unit
Spec eff asst, Alaska 2d unit
Spec eff asst, Alaska 2d unit
Crash seq by, Cannon Visual Effects Dept.
Process coord
Process projection
MAKEUP
Makeup/Hair supv
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup/Hair, Alaska 2d unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Prod coord
Prod auditor
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Scr supv
Casting assoc
Prod secy
Prod secy
Asst to Mr. Konchalovsky
Asst to exec prod
Asst to exec prod
Prod asst
Animal wrangler
Railroad consultant
Control room consultant
Pub coord
Extras casting
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Set nurse
Set nurse
Craft service
Prod coord, Alaska 2d unit
Loc auditor, Alaska 2d unit
Helicopter pilot, Alaska 2d unit
Helicopter pilot, Alaska 2d unit
Helicopter pilot, Alaska 2d unit
Railroad coord, Alaska 2d unit
Prod asst, Alaska 2d unit
Prod asst, Alaska 2d unit
Prod asst, Alaska 2d unit
Prod asst, Alaska 2d unit
Prod asst, Alaska 2d unit
Prod asst, Alaska 2d unit
Prod asst, Alaska 2d unit
Prod secy, Alaska 2d unit
Cook, Alaska 2d unit
Asst cook, Alaska 2d unit
First aid, Alaska 2d unit
First aid, Alaska 2d unit
Prod equip and facilities supplied by
Prod equip and facilities supplied by
In charge of development
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
SOURCES
SONGS
"Gloria," in D Major by Vivaldi, performed by The USSR Academic Russian Chorus and the Moscow Conservatoire Students Orchestra.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Runaway Train
Boso Kikansha
Release Date:
6 December 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 6 December 1985
New York opening: week of 6 December 1985
Production Date:
25 February--29 May 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Cannon Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 January 1986
Copyright Number:
PA279140
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
111
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27913
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the Stonehaven Maximum Security Prison in Alaska, inmate Oscar “Manny” Manheim, who is serving a life sentence, wins a civil rights case against the prison for keeping him welded inside a cell for three years. After hearing the report on the television, the inmates go wild and riot in support of Manny. Warden Ranken defends his actions on camera noting that Manny is an animal who has broken out of prison twice before. Ranken returns to the prison and releases Manny from his cell and allows him to walk the yard, where he is reunited with his prisoner friend, Jonah. During a prison boxing match, Manny is attacked and stabbed through the hand by a fellow inmate. Ranken watches from a floor above as the men fight. Jonah murders Manny’s attacker and is severely beaten by the guards. As Manny and Jonah recover from their injuries in the prison hospital, Manny tells him he is going to break out again, but Jonah refuses to join him. However, an inmate named Buck helps Manny escape in a laundry bin, and begs to come along. Manny reluctantly agrees. They grease themselves up and escape through the sewage pipes. After falling into a frigid river, they make their way across the frozen tundra, eventually arriving at a train yard. They sneak aboard a train, but as it leaves the yard, engineer Al Turner has a heart attack. The train speeds along unmanned, and the yard workers call Central dispatch to report the four-car runaway. Meanwhile, Warden Ranken searches for Manny and Buck by helicopter. Buck looks ... +


At the Stonehaven Maximum Security Prison in Alaska, inmate Oscar “Manny” Manheim, who is serving a life sentence, wins a civil rights case against the prison for keeping him welded inside a cell for three years. After hearing the report on the television, the inmates go wild and riot in support of Manny. Warden Ranken defends his actions on camera noting that Manny is an animal who has broken out of prison twice before. Ranken returns to the prison and releases Manny from his cell and allows him to walk the yard, where he is reunited with his prisoner friend, Jonah. During a prison boxing match, Manny is attacked and stabbed through the hand by a fellow inmate. Ranken watches from a floor above as the men fight. Jonah murders Manny’s attacker and is severely beaten by the guards. As Manny and Jonah recover from their injuries in the prison hospital, Manny tells him he is going to break out again, but Jonah refuses to join him. However, an inmate named Buck helps Manny escape in a laundry bin, and begs to come along. Manny reluctantly agrees. They grease themselves up and escape through the sewage pipes. After falling into a frigid river, they make their way across the frozen tundra, eventually arriving at a train yard. They sneak aboard a train, but as it leaves the yard, engineer Al Turner has a heart attack. The train speeds along unmanned, and the yard workers call Central dispatch to report the four-car runaway. Meanwhile, Warden Ranken searches for Manny and Buck by helicopter. Buck looks up to Manny, and compliments him on his previous bank-robbing crimes. Buck exclaims he is going to party now that he is free, but Manny instructs him to find a menial job and be thankful, insisting that collecting a weekly paycheck is “like gold.” The runaway train picks up speed and Manny suspects something is wrong. The engineers at the Central dispatch office frantically warn oncoming trains to switch tracks. When a locomotive changes tracks too late, the runaway smashes into its caboose. Manny and Buck are thrown by the impact, but their train fails to slow down. Manny surmises there is no engineer onboard, and he and Buck make their way to the front of the train. Elsewhere, Ranken gets word that prison clothes were found at the switchyard. The Central office dispatchers worry that the fast-moving locomotive will destroy a bridge that requires a slow speed to cross it. Believing the train is empty, superintendent Eddie MacDonald sends word to adjust the tracks to cause a derailment. When the signal maintainer reports hearing the train whistle, the dispatchers cancel the derailment realizing someone is onboard. Meanwhile, Manny and Buck are surprised to hear the whistle. When they see a worker in a hard hat approaching their train car from outside, they prepare to fight. As the worker enters, Manny and Buck throw the person to the ground, surprised to see it is a female. The woman, Sara, claims responsibility for blowing the whistle and tells them she works on the train but had fallen asleep and was awakened when they hit the caboose of the other train. They need to cut the fuel switch in the lead engine to stop the train, but she reports that the door to the front car is jammed. Warden Ranken arrives at the dispatch office to monitor the runaway train, suspecting that Manny and Buck are on board. Buck reveals that they have escaped from Stonehaven Prison. Realizing that police will be present when the train is finally stopped, Manny decides to jump from the speeding locomotive, ignoring Sara’s warnings that he will break every bone in his body from the impact. Before Manny and Buck jump, Sara thinks of a way to slow the train down by disconnecting the bus-line cables, and the trio work on the line outside the train. The dispatchers learn that Sara is on board and note the train is slowing down. However, they worry it is still too fast to cross the upcoming wooden bridge. Sara falls between the train cars, and Manny rescues her. Workmen wait near the bridge, anticipating disaster, but the train makes it safely across. A worker sees the threesome onboard, and reports to the Central office. Dispatchers see another train approaching miles down the track, but worry that if they switch tracks it will crash into a chemical plant. Ranken threatens lead dispatcher, Frank Barstow, to direct him to the train, and boards a helicopter to find it. Meanwhile, Manny and Buck try to break down the engine car door. Buck volunteers to make the treacherous leap across a wide expanse to the front engine car. However, when Buck gives up and returns, Manny beats him, calling him a coward. Buck agrees to try again, but Sara pleads with him not to, and calls Manny an animal. Manny throws Sara across the train car and her head smashes a window. He resumes beating Buck and pulls a knife on him. Buck threatens to kill Manny with a wrench, and Sara bites Manny’s injured hand. As Manny prepares to stab Sara, Buck hits him with the wrench. Sara screams for Buck to kill Manny, but Manny drops his knife in surrender. Buck laments that he thought they were friends and had considered Manny a hero. In an attempt to save more lives, the dispatchers plan to derail the runaway train, even though the trio will be killed. Meanwhile, Ranken lowers a rescue man from the helicopter. When the man falls and dies, Manny mocks Ranken. Ranken descends the ladder himself, but the train goes through several tunnels and the warden cannot get close enough. Sara realizes the engineers have switched their track and they are doomed to crash. She asks Buck to hold her. Refusing to die, Manny makes the perilous leap to the engine car but falls between cars and mangles his hand. He drags himself along and enters the engine. Ranken lands onboard with a gun drawn, and follows Manny inside. Manny beats him with a fire extinguisher and handcuffs the warden to the train. Although Ranken warns they will crash in five minutes, Manny refuses to push the emergency fuel shut-off. However, he unlatches the other train cars from the engine to save Buck and Sara. Buck screams for Manny to save himself, but Manny ignores him. As Buck and Sara’s car comes to a stop, Manny defiantly stands atop the engine as it speeds to his death. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Action


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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