|Directed by||Peter Hyams|
|Produced by||Andrew G. Vajna|
|Written by||Peter Hyams|
|Music by||Bruce Broughton|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$10.9 million|
Narrow Margin is a 1990 American crime thriller film directed by Peter Hyams and released by TriStar Pictures, loosely based on the 1952 film noir The Narrow Margin. It tells the story of a Los Angeles deputy district attorney who attempts to keep a murder witness safe from hit men while traveling through the Canadian wilderness aboard a train. The film stars Gene Hackman and Anne Archer.
This article needs an improved plot summary. (May 2018)
Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman), a Los Angeles deputy district attorney and a former Marine who fought in Vietnam, is attempting to take Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer), an unwilling murder witness, 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 hurtles 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.
- Gene Hackman as Robert Caulfield
- Anne Archer as Carol Hunnicut
- James Sikking as Nelson
- J. T. Walsh as Michael Tarlow
- M. Emmet Walsh as Benti
- Susan Hogan as Weller
- Nigel Bennett as Jack Wootton
- J. A. Preston as Martin Larner
- Harris Yulin as Leo Watts
Peter Hyams watched the original film on television one night "at some ungodly hour" and thought it was ideal for a remake.
"I didn't think the movie was terrific, but I thought the idea of people being stuck on a train was wonderful," said Hyams. "It harkened back to the kind of movie they don't make anymore. The idea of a train is very mysterious and romantic."
Hyams got Paramount to buy the rights and set about writing a RKO screenplay. He felt the train in his film should be traveling through country "so forbidding that you can't just jump off and go to a rent-a-car counter" so he decided to set the action in Mexico or Canada. "So I took the train through the Rockies and was unprepared for how beautiful it is," said Hyams. "It was the most extraordinary scenery I've ever seen." So he decided on Canada.
Lead roles went to Gene Hackman and Anne Archer. Hackman said, "Peter and I have talked about doing a film vaguely a number of times over the years and this came along and he told me that Anne was going to be involved. It's a good action-thriller. It has a lot of nice character to it."
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.
Narrow Margin received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 57% based on 14 reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
The DVD released by Optimum Releasing in 2007 is the only DVD available of Narrow Margin with any kind of extra features; it contains a commentary by Peter Hyams, B-Roll footage, a brief documentary, sound-bites by the cast and crew, and a trailer. All other DVD versions of the movie have been without features.
Kino Lorber released the film on Blu-ray on June 30, 2020 with a new 4K master, containing the previous features from the Optimum DVD and a new commentary from film historian/critic Peter Tonguette.
- 'Narrow Margin' Finds Its Route New York Times10 Sep 1989: A.14.
- Quality, quantity collide in Gene The Vancouver Sun June 10, 1989: H6.
- No guns to shoot Hackman's happy in his new role The Gazette June 11, 1989: H8.
- "140+ Train Movies – Reviews, Top 10 Lists, Location Guide". www.railserve.com.
- "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.