Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

French Murder Film Hailed as a Classic

Cleveland Press June 10, 1966

Five or 10 years from now connoisseurs of murder mystery motion pictures will be calling "The Sleeping Car Murder" a classic.

What might have been a merely routine thriller has been elevated to something far better through tightly paced direction and the sort of casting and acting generally reserved for big budget dramas.

Much of this movie is a family affair. Yves Montand is married to Simone Signoret and young Catherine Allegret is Miss Signoret's daughter by a previous marriage. She strongly resembles her mother.

THE MURDER of the title is but one of several. A six-berth sleeping compartment on the train from Marseille to Paris is occupied by five passengers and a stowaway.

After the train arrives and the compartment has emptied, one of its occupants -- a pretty girl -- is found strangled.

The police inspector (Yves Montand) in charge of the investigation orders a roundup of the other passengers both as witnesses and possible suspects. But faster than he can get to them they are struck down by the murderer.

WITH the second killing the leisurely pace of the opening is quickened and hurried along by tight editing and a filming pace that almost has a jazz beat to it. Scene changes and flashbacks are artfully put together and the speed of the movie mounts until it hits an explosive climax.

With a few deft touches Montand makes of his character a very real person -- a man perhaps a little brighter than others, a man with patience and a head cold and ordinary problems.

Miss Signoret plays a fading, third rate actress in love with a much younger man and even in such a role there is electricity in her acting and presence.