Published November 7, 2008

Renaissance storyteller Michael Crichton died this week, at age 66, after a long battle with cancer. While most know him as an author, The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure, to name only a few, he is best known for penning Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World. He assisted screenwriter David Koepp in adapting the former for Steven Spielberg. He also worked with Spielberg in creating and producing the long running TV drama ER.
Michael Crichton
Yet one of the most interesting aspects of his career, is the fact he was one of the only authors to adapt and direct his own novels for the Big Screen. (As a writer and cinema aficionado, I find this most fascinating.) Not all of the films he directed were based on his own work (like his take on Robin Cook’s Coma) and many of his films were original screenplays (Westworld, Looker, Runaway). But one of the best, and certainly one of my favorites, is Crichton’s 1979 effort The Great Train Robbery.
The Great Train Robbery
Based on his 1975 novel, it spins the (loosely based) true story of a massive gold heist which takes place on a train traveling through Victorian-era England. Starring Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and a bodice-bursting Lesley-Anne Down, The Great Train Robbery has all the ingredients of a first class action adventure, with healthy doses of romance, humor and jaw-dropping stunts (Connery’s work atop a speeding train, ducking low bridges, is amazing — it’s a wonder he didn’t lose his head). Jerry Goldsmith’s score is also wry and rousing.

Brimming with style and steampunk panache, this is one fun movie.

Never seen it? I’ve got it for you right here.

Yes, it’s from Hulu — damn those commercials. (The embedded version below is not enlargable, but the version available here is.)