An out-of-control, unmanned train, carrying a load of toxic waste? That's the thrilling (and surprisingly real-life) premise of Denzel Washington's new movie 'Unstoppable,' which opens Friday.

Of course, out-of-control and unstoppable trains are nothing new to the movies. (And we're not just talking about cable staples like 'Atomic Train.')

Since the silent era, audiences have thrilled to action set aboard locomotives: Whether it's spies evading Nazis, a bunch of teens trapped with a murderer, or a trainful of passengers exposed to a deadly plague, if it happens on board a train, it's automatically twice as exciting.

All aboard for our list of the 10 Most Suspenseful Train Movies ever made -- and a few over-the-top action sequences.

'The Lady Vanishes' (1938)
In this early Hitchcock thriller, everyone tries to convince Iris (Margaret Lockwood) that a certain Miss Froy she'd been talking to was never on the train in the first place. The master of suspense insures a great ride; such a good one, in fact, that the 2005 Jodie Foster movie 'Flightplan,' was a virtual remake, with the setting moved to a plane.




'Night Train to Munich' (1940)
A sort-of sequel to 'The Lady Vanishes,' although directed by 'The Third Man's' Carol Reed and featuring different characters. Rex Harrison stars as a British agent posing as a Nazi. His mission: Save an inventor -- and his beautiful daughter (Lockwood again) -- from the clutches of the real Nazis during a long train ride from Germany to France, without blowing his cover.
'The Narrow Margin' (1952)
Often called 'The Greatest B-Movie Ever Made,' this nifty noir wastes no time saddling gruff detective Walter Brown (Charles McGraw) with a mouthy gangster's widow (Marie Windsor). He's got to make sure she arrives in Los Angeles to testify at a grand jury, but it's a long ride from Chicago and the assassins are already on board.




'The Train' (1964)
Burt Lancaster was always a great action hero and he did all his own stunts in this lightning-paced war film. The premise -- he's got to stop a Nazi train without damaging its precious cargo of priceless art -- doesn't begin to convey what a tense journey director John Frankenheimer ('The Manchurian Candidate') makes this.




'Von Ryan's Express' (1965)
Frank Sinatra is American colonel Frank Ryan, who flies into Nazi-occupied Italy in the last days of World War II: He and about 400 British prisoners of war taste freedom when the Italians surrender, but the Nazis re-capture them and put them on a train to Salzburg. Ryan has a plan to take control of the train, but it's a lot harder than just knocking over a few armed soldiers.




'Murder on the Orient Express' (1974)
They sure don't do "all-star casts" like they did in the '70s: Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and Vanessa Redgrave are just a few of the names in what's widely regarded as the best screen version of an Agatha Christie novel. When a man who's received death threats is murdered in the middle of the night, detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) considers everyone on board a suspect. (And rightly so!)




'The Cassandra Crossing' (1976)
Even though it hails from the golden age of disaster movies, 'Crossing' is undeservedly obscure. Like its more famous counterparts, it features an international cast (Richard Harris, Sophia Loren and, hey, OJ Simpson!), in this case stuck aboard a train with the carrier of a deadly pneumonic plague! Will the greatest body count be from the plague, the armed guards who shoot anyone attempting escape, or a long-unused bridge that may collapse with the train's weight? Add in echoes of the Holocaust and Vietnam-era anti-government sentiment and you've got a helluva film.




'Terror Train' (1980)
It's 'Halloween' on a train! Or, at least that's what the makers of this film were hoping people would think, since it stars Jamie Lee Curtis and a whole lot of slashing. So it's not the classic that 'Halloween' is, but this one co-stars David Copperfield, and that's almost as scary as Michael Myers.




'Runaway Train' (1985)
Jon Voight and Eric Roberts both earned Oscar nominations for their acted-to-the-hilt roles as a hardened, legendary criminal (Voight) and a not-so-bright young bank robber (Roberts) who escape from a maximum security prison in Alaska. They hop on board a train, thinking it's their ticket to freedom, but they don't know the engineer's just died! The train just keeps speeding up and there's no hope of stopping it, or outrunning the vindictive warden who's in hot pursuit. Look for a very young Danny Trejo in a prison boxing scene.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com

'Transsiberian' (2008)
The Moscow tourist board definitely never approved this film, a cautionary tale about ever setting foot in the former Russia. On the train home, American tourists (Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson) befriend a young couple who, they realize far too late, are heroin smugglers. Even worse: A ruthless former KGB agent (Ben Kingsley) zeroes in on them as the criminals.





Two great action scenes involving trains:
'Mission: Impossible' (1996)
What kind of madman chases a train into a tunnel with a a helicopter? Jean Reno, that's who.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com
'Wanted' (2008)
Angelina Jolie is an assassin who just has to make that train, where James McAvoy is battling it out with Thomas Kretschmann.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com
CATEGORIES Features