Cinema: Trcms-Europ Express

France's Alain Robbe-Grillet believes in the cult of impersonality. The "new novel," with which he made large literary waves during the '50s, said goodbye to psychology and presented people and their actions as reflected in surface appearances and objective happenings. In 1961 he wrote the haunting, memorable Last Year at Marienbad, a movie in which it was marvelously impossible to tell who (if anyone) was doing what (if anything) to whom, let alone why.

Trans-Europ Express is a spoof of the spoof-suspense films presented in the Robbe-Grillet manner—which is to say that plot, character...

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