A lengthy documentary recording the bitter fight which French railway workers waged against the Germans, picture originally was released in France in 1946, and for US distribution an introduction and partial narration by Charles Boyer have been added. While some of the scenes are startlingly realistic, the balance of the film is inclined to be repetitious.
Rails primarily offers audiences a birds-eye view of how French transportation employees utilized sabotage to obstruct the Nazis from securing maximum advantages from the Gallic railway system. However, in an effort to overly emphasize the workers’ resistance, the glorification of the trainmen frequently steps beyond the bounds of logic.
It’s hard to believe that the Germans, who almost mastered the art of total war, could have neglected so vital a link to their armies’ security as the French transportation system. An answer to the amazing feats of the workers, along with the relatively minor retaliatory steps on the part of the Nazis, might be in the fact that the railroad employees themselves not only conceived the film, but also partially financed it.
Action of the film sweeps through the years of the Occupation up to the triumphal landing of the Allies in Normandy. Best of the camerawork, perhaps, is the sequence showing an unsuccessful attack of the French underground on a German armored train.