Rains is perfectly cast as Simenon's mousy Dutch shipping clerk, Kees Popinga, outraged to find, after meticulously keeping the books for 18 years, that his boss (Lom) has besmirched his integrity by cooking those books, intending to make off with the proceeds. Unable to resist his wanderlust when fate takes a hand - Lom falls accidentally to his death - Rains skips impulsively out on his family with the loot and heads for Paris, romance and adventure. On the same train is his old chess crony from the police (Goring), sympathetic but suspicious and asking awkward questions. So far so good, even if the dialogue does make rather too free with pregnant chess metaphors. But when Rains gets away, to find not the Paris of his dreams but a sordid nightmare of greed and murder, the film degenerates into crude, predictable melodrama (with Toren and Mayne hamming up the villainy, and Rains overdoing the naive bumpkin bit).
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By
Cast and crew