Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Walter Forde|
|Produced by||Michael Balcon|
|Screenplay by||Sidney Gilliat|
|Story by||Clifford Grey|
|Music by||Leighton Lucas|
|Edited by||Fredrick Y. Smith|
|Distributed by||Gaumont British|
Rome Express is a 1932 British thriller film directed by Walter Forde and starring Esther Ralston and Conrad Veidt. Based on a story by Clifford Grey, with a screenplay by Sidney Gilliat, the film is about a European express train to Rome carrying a variety of characters, including thieves, adulterers, blackmail victims, and an American silent film star. The film won the American National Board of Review award for Best Foreign Film. Rome Express was remade in 1948 as Sleeping Car to Trieste.
Before the journey starts, a valuable painting by Van Dyck has been stolen from an art gallery in Paris.
Zurta, a mysterious and sinister character, boards the train with an accomplice to search for the stolen painting, which he believes to be in the possession of Poole. Poole attempts to avoid being found by hiding in his sleeping compartment.
As Zurta searches for the painting, he is soon involved with several other travellers, including an adulterous couple, an English golf-bore, a wealthy but tight-fisted businessman and his brow-beaten secretary/valet, a French police officer and an American film star with her manager/publicist.
The painting is discovered by accident and passes through the hands of several people on the train, but after Zurta kills Poole, he is confronted by the police inspector. Attempting to escape, he leaps from the train and (presumably) is killed. The painting is presumed to be returned to the owners.
- Esther Ralston as Asta Marvelle
- Conrad Veidt as Zurta
- Harold Huth as George Grant
- Cedric Hardwicke as Alistair McBain
- Joan Barry as Mrs Maxted
- Gordon Harker as Tom Bishop
- Donald Calthrop as Poole
- Frank Vosper as M. Jolif
- Finlay Currie as Sam the Publicist
- Eliot Makeham as Mills
Like the post-war remake of this film, Sleeping Car to Trieste, details of the 'back story' of the film are few. Zurta is assumed to be a professional criminal who organised the art theft. MacBain also covets the painting and has previously attempted to buy it.