Sleeping Car Murders, The (1965)

“We may be fairly sure this job is not the work of a professional.”

A detective (Yves Montand) in Paris investigates the murder of a beautiful young woman (Pascale Roberts) on a train.


This fast-paced murder mystery was Greek director Costa-Gavras’ only stab at “pure entertainment” films before turning to political thrillers such as Z (1969), State of Siege (1973), and Missing (1982). While Murders garnered raves from critics upon its release (see links below), the awful English dubbing in the version I watched made the story seem like more of a farce than a thriller. The film’s two ostensible leads — Catherine Allegret (Simone Signoret’s real-life daughter) and Jacques Perrin as young lovers who meet on the train — are annoying; and while Signoret provides some moments of campy enjoyment as a self-absorbed actress, she (along with nearly everyone else) is too quickly killed off. To its credit, Murders does keep one continually guessing as to the identity of the killer — but the ultimate resolution of this mystery is unsatisfactory, and the plot has become so convoluted by this point that it’s hard to care.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Simone Signoret as an aging actress

Must See?
No. Though it holds some historical interest as Costa-Gavras’ directorial debut, this is not “must see” viewing.


One Response to “Sleeping Car Murders, The (1965)”

  1. First viewing. A must…not!

    What was Director Costa-Gavras thinking?! (And Peary?!)

    Dreary. Confusing. By the end, laughable. Probably defied good direction; the script is ABYSMAL! (Doubtful it would sound better in French; and the dubbed version does accent comic potential – what would Woody Allen have come up with had he given this the ‘What’s Up, Tiger Lily?’ treatment?)

    Among the cast, a number of fine French actors…set adrift, and left at sea. (Only interesting performance: a cameo by dependable Bernadette Lafont.)

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