The Journey is a relatively short one, geographically speaking. It leads from Budapest to the Austrian frontier, a distance of about 100 miles. A group of passengers, American, British, French, Israeli etc, is trapped at Budapest airport by the 1956 Hungarian uprising. The Red Army grounds the civilian planes, so this particular group has to take a bus to Vienna.
At the last checkpoint on the border the Russian commander is Yul Brynner. He delays the party, ostensibly to verify their passports and exit permits. His reasons are not clear. One seems to be his purely whimsical desire for western company. Another is his suspicion that one member of the party (Jason Robards) is one of the Hungarian rebel leaders.
What it eventually simmers down to is a political-sexual triangle, with Brynner jealous of Deborah Kerr’s attachment to Robards. Litvak finds he can tell his story almost entirely through Kerr (the west) and Brynner (the east), so the subsidiary characters and their subplots suffer.
This neglect is justified, however, chiefly by the projection of Brynner’s characterization. He is capricious, sentimental, cruel, eager for love and suspicious of attention. Kerr has the difficult assignment of being in love with one man, Robards, and yet unwillingly attracted to another, Brynner, who is the opposite of all she admires and loves. She is brilliant and moving as a woman alone in an unbearable situation. Jason Robards in his film bow, is excellent.