Tuesday, February 18, 2014

331. Bab el hadid/Cairo Station (1958)

Running Time: 77 minutes
Directed By: Youssef Chahine
Written By: Mohamed Abu Youssef, Abdel Hay Adib
Main Cast: Farid Shawqi, Hind Rostom, Youssef Chahine, Hassan el Baroudi, Abdel Aziz Khalil

Note: I wanted to remind everyone that I'm on icheckmovies.com and can be found under the username adduvall84. I'm reminded of this because my frequent commenter Ray has also recently joined and can be found under the username "few visible scars". We'd both like to connect with more people over there, which is why I'm putting both of our user names out there. Look us up and start checking movies! I even have my "245 Movies You REALLY Must See Before You Die: A Personal Ongoing Canon" list posted there, so sign up and see where you stack up when it comes to some of my fav flicks. Now then...


This was on a "very long wait" via Netflix, so I took to the interwebs last night, to see if I could track it down and thus delete it from my Netflix queue, so I didn't have to worry about it any longer. I managed to track it down and at only seventy-seven minutes, knocked it out in no time.

The film is an Egyptian drama (the first Egyptian film from THE BOOK?) and takes place in a busy Cairo train station. Among the frequenters of the train station is Qinawi (Chahine - also the director), a lame man who works for a newsstand owner, selling papers. Qinawi is not only lame, but also very sexually frustrated, hanging posters of scantily clad women around the room that he occupies. Qinawi is obsessed with Hannuma (Rostom), a voluptuous woman who sells cold drinks to overheated patrons. There's also Abu Siri (Shawqi), Hannuma's fiance and a man who is looking to unionize the workers of the train station. In reality, Hannuma is actually fascinated with Abu Siri and takes offense to her girlfriends teasing her about a prospective relationship with the lame and possibly not all there Qinawi. Despite his best efforts and his offering of a gold necklace, Hannuma does nothing more than play Qinawi like a fool and lead him on, fully aware that she'll never actually be his. After a while, Qinawi realizes this and snaps!


Not much to say about this one really. Unfortunately, it just didn't do anything for me and I may still be able to chalk it all up to the lingering effects of watching "The French Connection" and "The Conversation", two that blew my socks off and deserved higher ratings than they got. Because of those films, now everything is looking worse in comparison, which didn't bode well for the already flat "Cairo Station" - a film that resembled an deflated balloon. Perhaps it was my own fault, but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't cozy into this one last night. It's not that there was anything particularly wrong, it's just that the film wasn't loud enough and needed more "oomph" to really drive home it's bullet points. The story was simple & harmless, yet the whole thing (even at 77 mins.) seemed to take forever to get to the meat & potatoes. Is it just me or should they have had Qinawi snap a little earlier, so as to give us more to chew on? I think so. Had they had him kill Hannuma's friend earlier in the film, maybe at the thirty minute mark, then we'd have had a little more suspense and a little more to build toward. As it was, that didn't happen until nearly the end anyway and they took a character that we were meant to sympathize with and turned him into the bad guy. Or was he the bad guy? Or were we actually supposed to continue sympathizing with him, even when he was threatening to kill Hannuma? I don't really know and in fact, I don't really care. The film just didn't do it for me and I may even have to take some of the blame on this one. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood last night, although I think the film deserves a little blame too for flat out failing to win me over and get me attached to the story and characters.

RATING: 3.5/10  Yeah, I think I even took to "The Cool World" a little more than this. Perhaps I'll take a night off to let the effects of the Hackman double shot wear off. Man, those movies are still weighing heavily on the forefront of my mind!


February 18, 2014  10:12pm


  1. Thanks Andrew for promoting (both of us) on iCM.
    I'd be delighted to meet any of you on there.
    It is a very useful place to find posted links to some really obscure stuff that can be difficult / expensive to find elsewhere.
    This one for example. I had to buy this on import - and i would have been happy to just see it.
    I didn't dislike it.. and I got quite a buzz from watching a 'new' countries cinema.. but not one to totally thrill I'm afraid.

  2. We're four into this 100 and I think we're in total agreement so far. Kinda surprising really.


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