Casablanca Express (1989)

Nomination Year: 2013
SYNOPSIS:  Casablanca Express is a movie about a group of Allies hanging out in Africa during WWII. Churchill is also hanging out in Africa, but is scheduled to return home at the beginning of the film. However, before the Prime Minister of England can leave, Jason Connery uncovers a plot to blow up Churchill's plane. Arrangements are hastily made to smuggle Churchill out via train while Churchill's double takes the plane anyway to throw off the Nazis. Except someone outside the Allied group knows about the switch almost before the plan is formalized ... could there be a mole?

Yes. There could. It's a WWII movie; how could there not be? Anyway, the train leaves the station with Churchill, a car of marines, the remarkably competent female agent (Jinny Steffan) and the smooth talking Francesco Quinn (or possibly Jean Sorel or maybe both -- it was a little difficult to tell Mr. Schmooooove on the train kicking ass from Mr. Schmooooove not on the train and kicking ass). Halfway to Casablanca, the Nazis hijack the train, mine it with dynamite, and prepare to airlift Churchill to Berlin where he will be paraded around and humiliated, thereby devastating England's morale.

While the Nazis are waiting for their air transport, which is not the plane that dropped a squadload of paratroopers at the heist rendezvous point (paratroopers who, I might add, either took 5 hours to float down to the train or the African sun sets mighty super fast), the Allied agents get to work. One of the Mr. Schmoooooves takes on the ambushing Nazis by charging a machine gun nest armed with a grenade. Both are neutralized but at least we now only have one Mr. Schmooooove to keep track of. He's back on the train kicking Nazi butt with the awesomely competent female agent. Seriously, this woman rocked the spy gig hard, yo. She was chatting up the German soldiers one minute with her expert feminine wiles, and then grabbing an automatic machine gun and mowing down paratroopers the next. There was nothing she couldn't do. Well, save chase the bad guys along the top of the train in heels. I think only Tim Curry has that particular competency and he wasn't in this movie.

Sadly, the Allied agents are soon contained, so it's up to Jason Connery to save the day solo-handed on the world's fastest camel. Connery makes his way to the nearest train station and then camel-backs it out to the train all before the in-flight Nazi transport is even close. Jason absolutely takes after his dad, but gets the job done with just a camel, a crossbow and good old British perseverance. Take that, Mr. Bond!

Ok, he does get some help from Machine Gun Mr. Schmooooove who isn't quite dead. Connery arrives on the scene and sets the bullet-riddled Machine Gun Mr. Schmooooove to work clipping the wires to all the dynamite under the train. Meanwhile, Connery frees the other agents, beats up the lead Nazi, and then saves the day with the help of a trainload of marines sent as backup. Sadly, Machine Gun Mr. Schmooooove actually does die charging another nest of Nazis (perhaps the paratroopers that have finally landed?), but only after being gunned down. Twice. A bunch of civilians we didn't much care for also died during the altercation, but the remaining Mr. Schmooooove, Connery, and the kick-ass female agent survive. So also does the music composer for this film, and that we were very sad about.

Think of every 1980s blockbuster action movie's theme song, mash them all together, and that is what was playing throughout the entire film. It was equal parts annoying and awe-inspiring, but so very frustrating in that it was almost but not quite the Raider's March (or whatever movie theme it's reminiscent of. For me it was Raiders of the Lost Ark).

With Churchill saved, the mole captured, and all the wrong put to right, Connery learns that the senior brass of the Allied group secretly decided to go with the plane travel plans after all. Churchill's double was sent to Casablanca by rail, while the real leader flew the friendly skies back to the British Isles. One carload of marines dead, half the civilians dead, the valiant Machine Gun Mr. Schmooooove dead, and one train engine blown to bits, and they didn’t even have the real goods. In the immortal closing words of Connery's character,

"Shit, sir. Just ... shit."

Smithee Award Winner! "Whoops!"

Raiders of the Lost ... Train?
As a fight rages across the top of (and through) the train, we can hear the infamous Generic Fight Music, which is almost (but not quite) similar enough to Raiders of the Lost Ark to have John Williams consider contacting his attorney.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Jason Connery Hhis father is the legendary Sean Connery (aka "Zardoz"), and he seems to have inherited his film-choosing skills accordingly. 
Donald Pleasence His bald pate shows up here and there in both Bad and Legitimate films and made-for-TV movies 
Francesco Quinn son of actor Anthony Quinn 
Jinny Steffan too bad there is no "most competent character" category 
Jean Sorel  
Director Claim to Fame
Sergio Martino sometimes credited as *mpph* "Christian Plummer" 

Jeannette Quirk

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© 2011-2018 Bryan D. Cassidy, Greg Pearson, Matthew Quirk, and Kevin Hogan. All Rights Reserved.