Von Ryan's Express

Von Ryan's Express (1965)

9 mistakes

(1 vote)

Factual error: Sergeant Bostick tells Colonel Ryan he is from the 113th Armored Division. The U.S. Army never had a 113th Armored Division in WW2.


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Suggested correction: Is this actually an error? I believe the British Regiment who feature in this film are The Ninth Fusiliers. Well, there never has been a Ninth Fusiliers in the British army, either! For that matter, there never was a Colonel Joseph L Ryan, or a Major Eric Fincham, or a Major Battaglia. While this film is set in the Second World War, it is openly admitted that it is a wholly fictional story. Some Second World War films (A Bridge Too Far; The Longest Day; The Battle Of the Bulge) were made to recreate historical events, and so refer to soldiers and military units who existed. Other Second World War films like this one (Sahara, Escape To Victory, Ice Cold In Alex) while referencing actual events, and, showing sequences of events that are not beyond probability, are still stories. Since this is a fictional, imagined story, is it acceptable for soldiers to serve with fictional regiments or imaginary fighting units?

While some fictional accounts can be taken for granted and not counted as errors (even films based on true stories can have fictional characters), there are limits when setting films in the past. To have a 113th Armored Division is a valid mistake as the highest number in WWII was the 20th Armored Division, unlike Infantry Divisions that went into the 100's. This could almost be the same as giving a character an 8 or 11 number phone number.


The anonymous drive by hit and run "contributor" (not referring to you, Bishop73) may not have seen another post I made about Sgt. Bostick wearing a 4th Armored Division patch on his uniform: he says he is from the 113th A.D. (which never existed) but wears the 4th A.D. patch, which did exist in WW2, but did not see service until France in 1944.


Revealing mistake: In the opening sequence when Colonel Ryan's plane has crashed and is on fire, you can see a metal pole supporting a burning aircraft shell, not a real plane.

Revealing mistake: Obvious model train in the wide shots of the bombing of the town the train is going through.

Factual error: Sgt. Bostick wears the unit patch of the U.S. Army's 4th Armored Division. The movie takes place in 1943, but the 4th Armored never served in North Africa, Sicily, or Italy, hitting the beaches of Normandy, France, on July 11th, 1944 after being stationed and training in England.


Other mistake: When Ryan arrives at the camp he observes a funeral taking place yet when he goes to meet the camp Commandant he asks what they are celebrating outside.

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Suggested correction: I would agree that a funeral is not really an occasion for "celebration." The British regiment are holding a funeral for one of their dead officers: they are speaking English, and since Colonel Ryan is a US soldier, he can fully understand what they are saying, and he should know what is going on. He has worked out that a funeral service is in progress, but, having only just arrived at the POW camp, he will not know all the details of what is going on, and might be interested to know more. It might be insensitive to ask one of the British soldiers, so he decides to ask one of the Italian guards instead. Now, Colonel Ryan's history previous to the start of the film is not described, but he must have experienced some harrowing events in his military career, and this has probably left him feeling cynical and bitter, so he is probably using sarcasm. After all, Colonel Ryan is rather sarcastic throughout the rest of the film, too.

Continuity mistake: When the German planes attack at the end, the plane firing the rockets is shown approaching the bridge, walkway, and mountain with the mountain to the left of the plane (to the viewer's right). In the next scene looking straight at the walkway on the mountainside, the rockets come the viewer's right which cannot be given the plane's approach.


Factual error: At the point when Ryan transfers the points to divert the train, through the fuel dump being bombed, the light simulation of the passing train is of lit carriages, not trucks. (01:46:00 - 01:49:00)

Continuity mistake: When the train is taking water it is sitting on a far right spur line, but when it leaves it is on the main line.

Plot hole: At the end when the train is on the trestle while the men are repairing the rail, if they could have used the catwalk to go around the mountain, why didn't they just go straight through the tunnel to get into Switzerland. Seems like THAT would have been quicker.


Question: Why didn't the prisoners just walk through the tunnel to Switzerland on the other side?

Answer: The majority of prisoners were heading towards Switzerland through the tunnel, only a few prisoners with weapons were acting as a rear guard to hold off the German troops chasing them and buy the prisoners time to escape.


All the prisoners were on the train. I've contended before, they didn't need to fix the track. Just leave the train on the bridge and go straight through the tunnel. That route HAD to be shorter than going around on the walkway, and they would have had a much larger head start than waiting to fix the track.


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