Claude Rains is excellent as a man who knows the trains numbers and schedules. Along with watching trains he also watches his life go by. Then he gets a chance for some excitement. This is a terrific movie based on the novel by Georges Simenon best known for the Maigret series.
Kees Popinga (Claude Rains) has been chief clark at a centuries old firm in Holland. He tries to get a man a job but his boss, Julius de Koster,Jr. (Herbert Lom) refuses. He says the firm is built on honesty and morality. The man worked for a firm that was shut down after fraud by the owner. He himself was innocent bu de Koster doesn’t want the association with his firm.
Dropping by from Paris is Inspector Lucas (Marius Goring). He’s investigating Dutch currency showing up in the French black market. Popinga and de Koster assure him of their integrity and Popinga gives him the books. Everything’s fine.
After some time at home with his wife and two kids Popinga walks to his chess club. He hears a train whistle and dreams about going to Paris. At the station he sees his boss with a lip lock on a strange woman. At the club Lucas shows de Koster a picture of the woman and he denies knowing her. Popinga backs him up.
Later while walking past the office Popinga sees flames. He finds de Koster burning the books. He says he fell for the woman in the picture and embezzled money from the firm for her. The company is bankrupt and that means Popinga has lost all his savings.
Outside Popinga thinks de Koster is going to commit suicide. He accidentally bumps a briefcase out of his hand. It opens and it’s loaded with cash. Knowing the suicide story is a lie they struggle and Popinga knocks him into the canal. De Koster drowns and Popinga takes the briefcase and hops a train to Paris.
To his surprise Lucas comes into his compartment and they play chess on top of the briefcase. That’s symbolic for the chess game to come between them in Paris. Popinga jumps off the train and runs off. He goes to the woman in the picture. Her address was on an envelope he found in the briefcase. She’s Michele (Marta Toren).
She was expecting de Koster with the money and ends up laughing at Popinga and throwing him out. He wanders around and meets a hooker (Anouck Aimee) who helps him find a hotel room. He gets settled and then won’t let her stay.
Lucas goes to Michele’s place and says Popinga didn’t kill de Koster and he needs to find him. Michele tracks him and takes him to her friend Louis’ garage where he’ll share a room. She knows that briefcase is loaded with money. Popinga is starting to wake up a little. He goes out the window into the junkyard and hides the money in a car.
He hears Louis searching his room and is finally getting suspicious. Michele mocks him and questions his manhood hoping that will make him come up with the money. A bored Popinga decides to take some chances. His first move is to look Michele up at a nightclub.
Don’t miss this one. Aside from Rains’ performance this is just a good movie. It made me explore Simenon’s non Maigret books and I’m glad I did.