November 15, 2005
Raid on the Bergen Express, 1928
Although annotated with a running time of 98 minutes, the print for Uwe Jens Krafft's Raid on the Bergen Express that was screened for the program turned out to be a British cut of the film that clocked in at slightly less than one hour. With that reservation noted, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of the film in its current form. Ostensibly a hybrid of sorts between romantic comedy and action/caper film as two young men - a recently (albeit probationally) promoted newspaper advertising manager named Tom and a humorless, by-the-book officer named Lund - vie for the affections of Gerd, the daughter of the general manager for the national railroad, the film starts auspiciously with a long distance ski jump contest between Tom and Lund, a head-to-head competition that portents their romantic rivalry over Gerd. Unfortunately, the seamless choreography of this sequence is subsequently broken by what appeared to be gaping plot holes, with Tom inexplicably recruiting his friends for a plot to raid the Bergen Express on April 1st. Is his motivation to take revenge on Gerd's father who placed his promotion on contingency? Or perhaps it is to outwit Lund by staging a daring raid under his watch? Although the film does provide a resolution to these questions, the tidy denouement does little to reconcile the ethical quagmire that the actions in the film represent, an absurdity that would likely have been tempered if the missing sequences somehow deployed humor in order to justify the seemingly extreme measures concocted by the hero in order to win a girl's heart.