Narrow Margin

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Narrow Margin
Narrow Margin 1990 Poster.jpg
Directed by Peter Hyams
Produced by Andrew G. Vajna
Written by Peter Hyams
Starring Gene Hackman
Anne Archer
J. T. Walsh
M. Emmet Walsh
Music by Bruce Broughton
Cinematography Peter Hyams
Distributed by TriStar Pictures (U.S.)
Artisan Entertainment (UK)
Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • September 21, 1990 (1990-09-21) (U.S.)
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $10,873,237

Narrow Margin is a 1990 film directed by Peter Hyams and released by TriStar Pictures, loosely based on the 1952 film noir The Narrow Margin. The film stars Gene Hackman and Anne Archer.


A Los Angeles district attorney (Gene Hackman) is attempting to take an unwilling murder witness (Anne Archer) back to the United States from Canada to testify against a top-level mob boss. Frantically attempting to escape two deadly hit men sent to silence her, they board a Vancouver-bound train only to find the killers are on board with them. For the next 20 hours, as the train hurls through the beautiful but isolated Canadian wilderness, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues in which their ability to tell friend from foe is a matter of life and death.


As with Elliott Gould's character in Capricorn One, Gene Hackman's "Robert Caulfield" is named after Peter Hyams' old boss from his days as working as a TV reporter.

Hyams was intentionally looking through old movies that might be classics, only not too famous, to rewrite and remake as a modern film. He finally settled on Richard Fleischer's The Narrow Margin.

The film was shot in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. The train used for both interior and exterior scenes consisted of a BC Rail SD40-2 diesel locomotive and 12 privately owned passenger railcars, all painted in Via Rail Canada livery to represent the Toronto-Vancouver passenger train. Some of the distant exterior shots were filmed using a model train.[1]

The cabin featured in the first act was specifically built for the movie. Hyams decided to build it atop a mountain while it was still covered in winter snow. When the snow melted it turned out that the spot was actually a dump and it took a while to clear it out.

It was Hackman's idea that his character wear glasses.


Narrow Margin received mixed reviews and holds a 58% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

DVD release[edit]

The DVD released by Optimum Releasing in 2007 is the only DVD available of Narrow Margin with any kind of extra features. All other versions have been without features but the 2007 releases contains a commentary by Peter Hyams, B-Roll footage, a brief documentary, sound-bites by the cast and crew and a trailer.


  1. ^ Railroad Movies on DVD (

External links[edit]