Tale of robbery told two different ways

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Two DVDs, one a dramatization, one a documentary, of the same event, appeared two years apart. Here is a short report on both of them

Great Train Robbery

Televised in 2013, "The Great Train Robbery" is the story of a once-famous 1963 train robbery in England. The Royal Mail train was carrying old bank notes from several banks along the way and stopped by a large band of men who took nearly all of the bank bags. The total, much to the surprise of even the thieves, came to over 2,000,000 pounds!

Part 1, "A Robber's Tale," tells the story of how holdup man Bruce Reynolds (Luke Evans) organized and carried out the crime. Part 2, "A Copper's Tale," tells the story of how Scotland Yard's DCS Tommy Butler (Jim Broadbent) organized and carried out the capture of the gang. How much dramatic liberty was taken with the actual events is of no importance. This drama is pretty much predictable but so well acted and detailed that it makes superior viewing.

Anything more I might say would be a "spoiler" and so I will cut this short by giving the show a high recommendation. The 2 parts run about 90 minutes each, there are subtitles, and there are bonus interviews with members of both casts.

Tale Of Two Thieves

Now Virgil Films is offering a single disc titled "A Tale of Two Thieves" (2015). It tells in documentary format the story of the theft and has the advantage of interviewing the now elderly Gordon Goody, one of the original members of the gang, 50 years later. Alas, Goody is a bit difficult to understand—and Virgil has provided no subtitles.

The other thief, Bruce Reynolds, was the "brains" behind the caper and is played by a young actor, who repeats several things given by the real Reynolds in past interviews. This does provide some variety. Neither man expresses any remorse, other than that from being caught.

Any viewer not having seen the dramatization and not familiar with the details of the theft will have a tough time understanding what is being discussed in this documentary. Too much time is spent on Goody's early life and not enough on the robbery itself, so several references during the interviews or reenactments are ambiguous at best.

Still, for those familiar with the story (either because of the Acorn video or the internet) should be interested in this follow-up.

Frank Behrens reports on classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books and plays for the Arts and Entertainment section. Visit franklinbehrens.com for past reviews.


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