Tag Archives: Caught on a Train


Michael Kitchen running on screen over the years.

Good to know that “An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life“.

United Airlines is as bad as the border police in Caught on a Train. Or worse if racism was a factor:

American hegemony demands non-violence from protesters, but is quick to use violence against people who are peacefully not complying at UC Davis, Ferguson, Standing Rock – or even those who are just sitting in a plane seat. In every case, a lack of moral imagination, critical thinking and patience allowed a situation to a level of state violence, sometimes lethally, against people (mostly of colour). – “Thanks to United Airlines, is flying while Asian something to fear?“, The Guardian

The endless lies and misdeeds perpetrated by the Trump administration and its enablers are truly head-spinning.

To celebrate this day… Michael Kitchen devouring a slice of filling in a crust.

Just one week into a psychopath’s term in office and the Doomsday Clock has advanced 30 seconds. Humanity is going to need lots of luck to avoid ending up like the chickens in these scenes.


A 48-gif birthday salute to Michael Kitchen and one of the highlights of his career, Caught on a Train, which had its broadcast premiere on October 31, 1980 when the young actor holding his own opposite Dame Peggy Ashcroft turned just 32 years old.

Do you often ask men on trains home with you?

The morning after Peter suffers the indignity of being forced half-dressed off the train as a suspected terrorist and subsequently attacks Frau Messner for being the cause of his ordeal, his frustration with her throughout his journey seems to have been spent. In his somewhat disheveled state, he seeks out Frau Messner to say goodbye minutes before arriving at his destination and quite cheerfully does her bidding, perhaps because he knows that soon she will be just an unpleasant memory. Then to his great astonishment, she extends an unusual invitation to him.

Love the praise heaped on Michael Kitchen in filmycks.com’s review of Caught on a Train:

The two leads turn in powerhouse performances, possibly the finest of their respective careers. Ashcroft may have been the flashier but for Kitchen to craft such a complex creation as Peter out of rather simple material, marked him as one of the finest actors of his generation. Notoriously media-shy he has spent most of his career within television and exemplary as his work has been, his relative absence from the big screen is certainly cinema’s loss. To get a sense of his talent, one only has to view a brief moment within a single scene in Caught on a Train. After Peter’s initial meeting with Messner, she plays upon her age and frailty and asks if he will go and buy some magazines from a vendor. It will mean leaving the train (which is still stationary at Ostend) and Peter has no intention of doing so. Consequently, he begins to equivocate and invent various excuses as to why he shouldn’t. Messner bats each of these away (‘It is only a short distance, you won’t even have to run’) and when it looks like he will have no choice but to acquiesce, a station guard’s whistle is heard. Peter believes he is saved from the task because the whistle indicates the train is about to leave. However, just before he can inform Messner another passenger states that the whistle isn’t for their train much to the chagrin of Peter. The moment lasts barely a second and yet within this screen-time Kitchen displays relief, then triumph, then fury. The complexity and skill in conveying so much in an instant, reveals a major talent at work.

His facial expressions in the last two frames are pretty terrific as well.

michael kitchen caught on a train arriving at station 1michael kitchen caught on a train arriving at station 2
michael kitchen caught on a train arriving at station 3

In the night shadows.

michael kitchen caught on a train

Yet another image of Michael Kitchen in Caught on a Train, which is on my mind because I’ve just discovered Stephen Poliakoff’s latest production, the wonderful Dancing on the Edge.

Indulging in the chocolate scene from Caught on a Train since it’s National Chocolate Day.

michael kitchen caught on a train


michael kitchen caught on a train peekaboo smile 1

#peekaboo smile

The moving last scene in which Peter ultimately feels a connection to Frau Messner despite her being worlds apart from him and, as he puts it, “a member of a nearly extinct species.” She may be the biggest pain in the neck he has ever met, but he is inexplicably drawn to her and will not soon forget their chance encounter.

LB said:

The last scene, where he’s looking at her with a smile on his face, then the smile magically, impeccably fades is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on film. I’ve watched it over and over, it’s seamless.

From the London Times, Oct. 31,1980:

At one level, the essential one I think, Stephen Poliakoff’s play Caught on a Train (BBC2, 9:30) is a study in domination: ageing Viennese lady, autocratic and irritating, turns young British publishing public relations man into a reluctant lackey during a troubled train journey from Ostende to West Germany. The two roles are splendidly played by Peggy Ashcroft, sporting an impeccable foreign accent, and Michael Kitchen who executes an infinite number of variations on the theme of distaste. Theirs is an unsatisfactory relationship, but such is Mr. Poliakoff’s ingenuity in setting it against a background of lovelessness and violence, that it gradually develops into something which remotely resembles affection.

My top 20 Michael Kitchen roles:

4. Peter in Caught on a Train (1981)

Three of my favorite films depict a young person bonding with an elderly stranger, and this is one of them.  The relationship is especially affecting here, since Frau Messner is such an unlikable lady.  The scenes between MK and Peggy Ashcroft are priceless. Synopsis and review at BFI Screenonline.

If you love ”Human” as much as I do, btw, you might enjoy this video. (Wish he’d been busking when I visited York.)

Michael Kitchen smoking.

Glad Foyle doesn’t smoke. Wonder if MK had anything to do with that decision.

In appreciation of your note and perspectives, anonymous, which made me want to revisit Caught on a Train yet again.