Do you like Sean Connery kicking 40 kinds of ass? Of course you do. With a little help from writer-director Michael Crichton, he delivered one of his very best films, The Great Train Robbery, on this day in 1979. A heavily fictionalized version of a purportedly actual event, it follows Connery’s criminal mastermind as he plots — with the help of Donald Sutherland and Lesley-Anne Down — to steal millions of pounds worth of gold bullion off of a train bound for the Crimea. It came in the midst of Connery’s most fruitful period as an actor, among the likes of Robin and Marian, The Man Who Would Be King, The Wind and the Lion, and Time Bandits.
Speaking of trains, today also saw the release of Shanghai Express in 1932, Josef von Sternberg’s sumptuous period drama detailing various sudsy goings on during a dangerous train ride through China. It represented the fourth collaboration between von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich, whom he had made a huge star two years earlier with The Blue Angel. They went on to make three more movies, and the film itself was nominated for three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography (which it won).
Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention at least one gobbling turkey in the face of all this awesome. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Killdozer — excuse me, make that Killdozer! — released today in 1974. I could tell you about the plot, but the title’s all you really need, isn’t it?