Burt Lancaster

  • Is there a question to which you want to know the answer? Or do you know the answer to a question here?
  • Write to: Charles Legge, Answers To Correspondents, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email charles.legge@dailymail.co.uk

QUESTION: Were the events depicted in The Train, starring Burt Lancaster, true?

The Train (1964) was loosely based on the non-fiction book Le Front De L’Art by Rose Valland. Valland was a French art historian and member of the French Resistance.

She worked at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris, where she secretly recorded details of the looting of art treasures by the Nazis.

Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster

Shortly before the Liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944, Valland learned that General Heinrich Baron von Behr had planned to loot, via train, a massive haul of art containing almost 1,000 paintings, including works by Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin, Modigliani and Picasso.

The plot was foiled using a well-timed railway worker strike, resulting in the priceless works being blocked into a siding before they were rescued by the Free French forces. The film depicts, in spectacular gun-toting style, a fictionalised version of these events.

Justin Wright, Malvern, Worcs.

The Train (1964) was loosely based on the non-fiction book Le Front De L'Art by Rose Valland

The Train (1964) was loosely based on the non-fiction book Le Front De L’Art by Rose Valland

QUESTION Did the composer Benjamin Britten suffer from OCD?

Benjamin Britten was a brilliant 20th-century composer, celebrated for his operatic works including Peter Grimes.

Tomorrow’s Questions

Q: What’s the oldest recipe for tomato ketchup?

Bernadette Edwards, Swindon, Wilts.

Q: Were any automobiles manufactured in China under the dictatorship of Chairman Mao?

James Dickie, Crawley, West Sussex.

Q: Samuel Johnson once said: ‘I should have thought it not possible to find a Monboddo; yet he exists.’ What is known of Lord Monboddo?

Samantha Bain, Aldershot, Hants.

Britten was difficult and anxious but he didn’t suffer from OCD. This idea stems from one of many anecdotes that surround his life. 

One evening while touring with his 1946 opera The Rape Of Lucretia, librettist Ronald Duncan was surprised to find Britten hobbling along the corridor of his Edinburgh hotel. ‘What I am trying to do,’ he explained, ‘is walk down the corridor and back without touching any of the red lines on the carpet.’ 

When Duncan asked why, Britten replied: ‘If I can get up and down the corridor without touching the lines it will mean that I am a composer.’

Becca Williams, Hereford.

QUESTION Have two actors ever had a falling out over who gets top billing in a film?

Further to the earlier answer, a famous battle over top billing took place between Jimmy Durante and Ethel Merman when starring in Cole Porter’s 1936 stage musical, Red, Hot And Blue.

The dispute was resolved by having their names arranged in an ‘X’. An up-and-coming young actor called Bob Hope appeared below.

J. S. Bowles, Luton, Beds.

 

 



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