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Rome Express

This article is about the thriller film. For the former luxury train of the same name see Rome Express (train).
For the French film, see Rome Express (1950 film).
Rome Express
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Walter Forde
Produced by Michael Balcon
Written by
  • Ralph Stock (dialogue)
  • Frank Vosper (dialogue)
Screenplay by Sidney Gilliat
Story by Clifford Grey
Music by Leighton Lucas
Cinematography Günther Krampf
Edited by Fredrick Y. Smith
Distributed by Gaumont British
Release dates
  • November 1932 (1932-11) (UK)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Rome Express is a 1932 British thriller film directed by Walter Forde and starring Esther Ralston and Conrad Veidt.[1] 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.[1] The film won the American National Board of Review award for Best Foreign Film.[1][2] Rome Express was remade in 1948 as Sleeping Car to Trieste.


The film's action takes place almost entirely on the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits train the Rome Express, travelling between Paris and Rome.

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.


Back story

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.


  1. ^ a b c d "Rome Express". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Awards for Rome Express". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 

External links