Loves Labor Won 1948


20th Century Fox
Terrytoons Studios

Here I come, to save the daaaay! Yes, it’s Mighty Mouse once more battling Oil Can Harry for the affections of lovely Pearl Pureheart.

This train-laced, Terrytoons animated short, is done in a wonderful, fake-opera, melodramatic style with MM (our hero) belting out tenor, OCH (our villian) singing bass/baritone and PP (our damsel in distress) warbling soprano.

The art work is right up there with Warner Brothers for quality and the animators did a great job with backgrounds and interiors. Lots of action and enough asides and adult-gags to keep it interesting.

On with the show!

Wonderfully-detailed coach interior right down to the red-plush seats and pot-bellied stove; Standard old-fashioned steam locomotive about to change into an anthropomorphic object at the hands of Oil Can Harry.

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Western Pacific Agent 1950

Lippert Pictures, Inc.

What better way to showcase Western Pacific Railroad’s spanking new streamliner (the California Zephyr) than shoehorning train footage into a Noir B picture?

The opening credits and first three minutes of this movie feature the CZ both inside and out with location shooting on Altamont Pass, Feather River Canyon and the WP Sacramento station.

This 72 minute potboiler tells the story of WP Special Agent Rod Kendall (played by Kent Taylor) who is tracking down the mad killer Frank Wicken (played by Mickey Knox).

All Aboard!

Is that Jack Benny talking to the statuesque blonde in the Vista Dome? ………WELL! Nah, no idea who he is, but his gal pal is actress Vera Marshe; Led by WP #801, an EMD A-B-B set of 1947 F3 locomotives worth 4500 hp, the California Zephyr glides into Sacramento. Quite a crowd on hand ready to board.

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Cole Younger and the Black Train 2012

Forbesfilm

Dreadful. That’s how one IMDb.com reviewer described this 2.5 stars out of 10 stinkeroo. This is undoubtedly the WORST obscure train movie I’ve ever watched, bar none. The cinematography is out-of-focus or ridiculously close-up and the acting is wooden. I only reviewed this movie because it promised 3 former Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge locomotives in shot.

As compensation, dear reader, I will offer clear, nicely-framed pictures and details of the three locomotives and rolling stock. All train scenes were filmed along the Durango & Silverton tourist railroad in Colorado. Since the film is so wretched, I will not bother to I.D. any of the principals involved. As a group, they need a refresher course in filmmaking.

How I suffer for my hobby. OK, Let’s go train spotting!!

Well, there’s ONE guy I WILL identify. I gave this mug the pet name of “Dude”. It helped me get through the movie. Here we see Dude shuffling alongside D&S #486. More about the locomotive later.

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Station Master 1954

National Film Board of Canada

This film was recommended to me by Pete! It’s the third National Film Board of Canada movie I have reviewed on my blogs and the first to mainly feature Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). This is the story of CP station master Dalton Henry and his crew in little Finch, Ontario. The Canadian Pacific had a crossing here with a New York Central (NYC) branch line to Ottawa.

Steam was still active in Eastern Canada at the time and there is a nice mix of trains on both railroads. The CP rails still exist through Finch, but the NYC branch was abandoned shortly thereafter in February 1957.

This black & white short packs a lot of railroad action into its 15 minutes and is a poignant look at the way things used to be on the railway. Highball!

Out in front of the depot, a section gang is busily shoveling snow from switches and the crossing diamond. Up in the interlocking tower, Charlie lights up a Player’s and checks his pocket watch. Note the nearby telegraph key and dispatcher’s phone on a scissors arm.

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Santa Fe 3759 — 2004

Pentrex – Santa Fe 3759 – Video DVD
Seymour F. Johnson Enterprises – Farewell to Steam! – Audio LP

This is the story of the final run of Santa Fe Railway steam locomotive #3759 in 1955. A 4-8-4 Northern built by Baldwin in 1928, this oil-burning behemoth was saved from the scrapper’s torch and placed on display in Kingman, Arizona where it resides today.

Today’s movie review was inspired by an LP from my father’s record collection — which I literally wore out playing, as a youngster. Loved that record. It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered a great deal of color film footage had been taken of the fan trip and put out on DVD by Pentrex. I had to get a copy.

The harder part was getting a good audio CD to replace the original LP. Apparently, there are two versions out there. The first was the original 1955 sounds put out by Mr. Johnson (see above). The second, more common, was a 1958 remixed album which had the reverb turned up to 11. Awful recording. As someone said, “It sounds like the listener was at the bottom of a steel drum”.

Anyways, Trolley Dodger to the rescue! Offered for sale on his website (see link at the bottom of this review) is an audio CD of the ORIGINAL mono non-reverbed LP. Fantastic sound quality and frequently playing as I drive along in my truck. ;p

For this video review, I created over 200 screen captures, but I’ll try to whittle that down to 65 or less, as #3759 makes it way from Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) to Barstow and back. Let’s watch big steam in action over Cajon Pass! In color!

Climbing towards Summit, the Farewell to Steam special passes a beautiful set of A-B-B-A F units on a downhill freight. With the San Gabriel mountains in the background, AT&SF #3759 blasts through a cut during a photo runby.

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Murder is my Beat 1955

Allied Artists Productions

I first heard about this B noir picture from reader Tony Wilson. As I researched, I discovered a good copy on both archive.org and YouTube. The film features at least 3 different Southern Pacific Railroad steam locomotives pulling various heavyweight and streamlined passenger equipment.

It’s a relatively short flick at just 77 minutes, but there are two train sequences at the 31 minute and 70 minute marks packed full of onboard and train exterior goodness. I had a great time discovering the equipment used — made harder by B&W night-time footage. And there might just be a little cheesecake in there for our more mature readers.

Let’s go ride “The Friendly” Southern Pacific!

Churning, spoked drivers roll along an impeccably-groomed roadbed…which segues into this shot of a steamer pulling a 5 car passenger train down a weed-choked right-of-way.

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Switchback 1997

Paramount Studios

I first heard about this movie from a blog! Many thanks to James Tiroch and his Cinetrains site for providing a wealth of information about the two locomotives used in filming AND their disposition afterwards.

Despite the snazzy “Grande Gold” graphic (see below image) splashed across their flanks, these are NOT Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) locomotives! At the time of filming, Union Pacific owned D&RGW and would not allow use of their equipment. Movie makers simply leased a couple locomotives and painted them up the way they liked.

And WHAT a couple of engines they are! Two former Southern Pacific EMD-built (1970) SD39’s #5319 & #5325 dressed up in Rio Grande “speed lettering”. Let’s check out this film on the “Main Line Thru The Rockies”.

A pair of Rio Grande diesels is about to enter a tunnel deep in a Colorado canyon. These Espee SD39’s in disguise were frequently renumbered to represent different trains. Notice the cabside number location has been painted out. Here the lead unit is “2010” and the trailing unit is “234”.

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Incident on the Road Back 1961

CBS Television

Rawhide! “Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’…” Who can forget Frankie Laine howling those opening and closing lyrics…especially after the Blues Brothers reintroduced the show to a newer generation (me) in 1980?

According to my research (Hat tip to Larry Jensen – Hollywood’s Railroads, Volume 2), the production company of Rawhide spent a month in Tuolumne County filming bits of various shows for Season 3. Today’s review features Sierra Railroad #3, “shorty” passenger cars #5 & #6 as well as several stock cars borrowed from Southern Pacific Railroad.

In addition to the iconic 1891 Rogers 4-6-0, feast your eyes on one of the screens most recognized actors, Clint Eastwood, in his breakthrough role of Rowdy Yates. Two classics in one. Let’s get started…

Clint Eastwood (Rowdy) poses with co-stars Paul Brinegar (as Wishbone) and Eric Fleming (as Gil Favor) alongside Sierra #3.

Do ya feel lucky? Well do ya, punk? Rowdy waits for the train, sporting his now-famous annoyed grimace. Note the stock car on the siding and water tower in the background.

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Oklahoma! 1955

RKO Radio Pictures
20th Century Fox

This is a train movie filmed twice! First, was in glorious CinemaScope, the Second in 70mm Todd A-O. Once they finished filming a scene in CinemaScope, they’d roll in the Todd A-O cameras and the actors would repeat their performance. What’s interesting about this process, is you get a slightly-different view of each scene. Double your pleasure, double your fun!

The star of our show is little Southern Pacific #1673, a 2-6-0 M-4 class Mogul, built by Schenectady Locomotive Works in 1900. For the movie, she was renumbered with a flamboyant #52 emblazoned on her tender with no RR reporting marks on the cab side.

As seen from this link –> Southern Pacific #1673 is still with us and on display at the Tucson, Arizona, Amtrak station.

Filming twice was fortunate as we see no front end close ups of #1673/#52 in CinemaScope, but get some great views in the Todd A-O version. More later.

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Love Me Tender 1956

20th Century Fox

B&W Cinemascope

Elvis! Guess what the baby said! Okay, I’m already getting off track here (pun intended), but I always think of the above Apes of Wrath 1959 cartoon when Elvis’ name comes up.

Yeah, Elvis. Here he appears in his first movie as brother Clint, of the notorious, train-robbing Reno Gang. Although he isn’t shown next to a train at any point, he aids and abets his brothers in their crime spree. Actually, Elvis was brought in as an excuse to include some of his musical numbers and be the third figure in a messy love triangle. More about that later.

Today’s movie features TWO studio-owned stream locomotives: 1. Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22, “The Inyo” and; 2. Dardanelle & Russellville 4-4-0 #8. Both of these locomotives are still with us and located in Carson City, Nevada.

It’s the Confederates vs. the Damn Yankees towards the end of the Civil War. Here comes the train. Time to rob the payroll!

Presented here are two contemporary views of our feature’s two steam locomotives at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. While the Inyo is operational, the D&R #8 is stored awaiting restoration.

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