Best Films set on trains!

Strangers on a Train is one of the best films set on trains |

I don’t know why I put the exclamation mark in the title, I guess I just want you to get freakin’ excited about all of the films where trains feature in a huge or pivotal part of the narrative! Is your mind ready to be blown? GOOD! Let’s have a run down of all my favourite films set on trains/train film faves.

Films set on trains

Before Sunrise (1995)

Before Sunrise is one of the best films set on trains |
© 2013 Getty Images

Trust the obsessive Linklater fan to put this film front and centre of the pinnacle of films set on trains! Granted, not even half of the film is set on a train but the would-be lovers from different continents meet in one of the most romantic ways possible, as carefree early 20-somethings on a train across Europe heading to Paris via Vienna. This is the dream people, this is the dream.

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Strangers on a Train is one of the best films set on trains |
© 1951 – Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Two strangers. One shared fatal flaw. Hitchcock’s suspense Noir classic is possibly the most synonymous in its use of the locomotive as the setting for two strangers to meet and discover the same conundrum in their new friend: they both need someone in their lives to disappear and wouldn’t it be just perfect if you could never be traced back to the crime because you never really knew that person to begin with? Too perfect.

Source Code (2011)

Source Code is one of the best films set on trains |
© 2010 Vendome Pictures

Perhaps not the most obvious of choices? This film is more known for it’s weird time/other dimension travel starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones than its showcase of America’s best public transportation. Granted, this isn’t a very nice train, it’s rather an average to poor looking train, but it certainly does the job in getting Jake’s character from A… and back to A again.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

The Darjeeling Limited is one of the best films set on trains |
© 2007 Twentieth Century Fox

Wes Anderson’s world is definitely one I’d like to live in for a while, especially if it also involved travelling across India which this train, the name of the movie, does. It is not only a train journey of physical means, but very much spiritual, like a journey of life. Wow, so deep.

Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895)

The Arrival of a Train is one of the best films set on trains |
© Archives du 7e Art/DR

Ah, the pioneer of railroad movies. This was one of the earliest films ever captured by the Lumiere Brothers, and one of the few to be shown to an audience. There’s a well known story that goes with this film: when the filmmakers exhibited the film in public, apparently the audience were convinced that the train was real and would run everyone over so they stampeded away from the “train.” If only severe audience reaction was that easy to create nowadays.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Murder on the Orient Express is one of the best films set on trains |
© 2012 Getty Images

Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery/Agatha Christie adaptation, especially one that involves the quintessential luxury train that runs from Paris to Istanbul? I’m more of a David Suchet girl myself and I think most will agree, but this is such a fantastic murder story, it’s probably in my top three murder mysteries of all time.

Do you have any other favourite train movies?

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Best Films set on trains including Before Sunrise and The Darjeeling Limited |
© 2007 Twentieth Century Fox

9 thoughts on “Best Films set on trains!

  1. Jess says:

    The Darjeeling Limited is probably my favorite from this list, if solely because more takes place on the train than Before Sunrise which would’ve been the best. You’re right, that totally is the dream. I really want to see Murder on the Orient Express though! One cool train movie to check out is the thriller Transsiberian.

    • Rebecca says:

      Yeeeeeah that was a cheeky entry but I do love it, I don’t know if Brief Encounters is well known in the US but that was filmed in a train station really close to where I’m from and my mum couldn’t believe I didn’t include it but it’s not really set on a train… Tony tells me there’s a new Murder on the Orient Express that Kenneth Branagh is making! I really would watch the TV version though if you can get hold of it with David Suchet as Poirot because the cast is flawless. Ooohh I’ll have to check that one out, I’ve never heard of it!

  2. Tony Cogan says:

    Definitely agree with you on Source Code, one of my favourite sci-fi films of the past few years. With Murder on the Orient Express, it’ll be interesting to see what Kenneth ‘ chuckles’ Branagh will do with the story. Have to say, I’m disappointed you didn’t include the masterpiece by The Asylum, Snakes on a Train

    • Rebecca says:

      Yeah Source Code was brilliant! I had no idea he was doing a version of it? It’ll be interesting to see it already knowing the outcome. Hahaha I unfortunately haven’t seen that one, I’m not sure it would have made my list anyway 😉

      • Tony Cogan says:

        Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see what Branagh does, although it’ll be hard for him to get a better cast than the David Suchet version (Toby Jones, Jessica Chastain, David Morrissey, Barbara Hershey and Hugh Bonneville). You’re missing out not seeing Snakes On A Train, especially with such seemless CG

          • Tony Cogan says:

            Although now, being serious in recommendations, if you’ve not seen it I highly recommend you watch the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three, one of the best thrillers of the 70’s and it’s a shame Snowpiercer hasn’t officially been released here or I’d recommend that (I watched it through an imported copy but that meant I couldn’t understand a key scene due to the lack of English subtitles)

            • Rebecca says:

              Ahh I’ve not heard of that first film but I have heard of Snowpiercer on the grapevine somewhere, I hope they do release it at some point!

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