Narrow Margin 1990

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TriStar Pictures

Gene Hackman and Anne Archer star in this 90’s remake of the classic B film noir, The Narrow Margin from 1952.

Well, it’s not an EXACT remake. Let’s just say it takes its SHAPE from the original. Filmmakers spared no expense in obtaining a string of streamlined passenger cars from the now-defunct Roaring Fork Railroad in Colorado, then painting up a BC Rail SD40-2 in a pleasing VIA Rail paint scheme.

Add to that the stunning scenery of British Columbia along BC Rail’s North Vancouver to Prince George line and you’ve got a winner of a movie. The plot? Oh, just a whole slew of bad guys after our heroes, Gene and Anne as Via’s “Canadian” rolls towards Vancouver. Let’s check it out.


This is probably the best photograph of the entire consist with the lake reflection as a bonus.

Location: Alta Lake, BC near Whistler Resort perhaps? I’m sure SOMEONE out there recognizes this spot.

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We first glimpse our train 27 minutes into the movie. Note Gene and Anne racing down a bumpy road in their blue Ford Bronco. What luck! The Canadian is pulling into town just as they arrive.

Not sure of the location of this depot.  Pretty nice structure inside and out for what appears to be just a wide spot in the trees.

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Hastily, tickets are obtained at the “Lac Des Arcs” depot. Nice view of the train with Gene futzing around trackside. But — who are those two characters at the end of the platform? Up to no good, I’ll wager….

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In their bedroom, Gene stands next to an impressive assortment of buttons and knobs, each labeled in English and French. And there’s Anne Archer. Always looking terrified. Always looking fabulous.

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Beautiful exterior of the train crossing a rocky stream. This has got to be somewhere in Cheakamus Canyon.

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“Wallputik” appears to be the Squamish, BC Depot. Who’s that mysterious lady in red boarding the train? Meanwhile, Gene’s in a phone booth (remember those?) getting the skinny from his not-too-helpful supervisor.


Uh-oh, Gene has spotted the bad guys at the end of the lounge car. To avoid a confrontation, he chats up the little blonde in red. Red? Danger! Note the nifty little Via Rail LRC locomotive and train on the bar. And of course, LaBatt’s in a bottle.

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At Monashee (the Porteau, BC depot), we finally get a look at our locomotive’s number 757. It’s that BC Rail SD40-2 in disguise. Note the green “section following” class lights displayed.

Kudos to George Dutka for providing a great deal of information about this train, its location and the consist on his blog.

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Gene greets two more shady characters on the platform, then heads inside the depot to use the john. Meanwhile Via #757 gets fueled and displays its green class lights (filmmakers seemed to favor lots of tight shots, maybe to give the movie that “trapped on a train” look).

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Red! Danger! I never realized those passing crossing gate lights were so bright. Bad gun handling, guys. You NEVER put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to shoot. Hollywood. In a hokey pose like this, the one guy would shoot his partner in the back and the other guy would shoot into the ceiling.

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Comes the dawn, we find Gene enjoying breakfast with good views of the diner and the train while Anne pouts back in the sleeper. Still looking fabulous, though!

Well, hello there! It’s that little number from the lounge car yesterday. She has changed into a much less-threatening ensemble which dovetails nicely with the artsy-fartsy soft-focus.

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Gaaah! Things rapidly go downhill from there and from the car’s vestibule, Anne soon finds herself clinging to the side of the train.

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Gene soon joins her and together they stroll along a tree-lined lane….

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What’s this? It’s the Uzi-toting James B. Sikking! Despite the impressive firepower, he is unable to actually hit our two heroes. Maybe the frequent tunnels distracted him.

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I love face holds. Now THIS is a farked up situation! Great helicopter shot of Gene holding onto James pants.

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Action! The kerfuffle soon moves to the dome car roof terrorizing the passengers inside. Finally James is ejected from the skyline dome as good, once more, triumphs over eeee-vil.

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Surprise! Plot twist! It’s the blonde bimbo from the lounge car. Gene and Anne cower in fear. But like so often happens when the bad guy/gal has you dead to rights, she starts monologing and POW! gets offed Wile E. Coyote style by the tunnel portal. Oh Gene, comfort me…

Thus endith the train scenes. Narrow Margin 1990 was packed with railroad action and despite the weak script was a lot of fun to review. And look! They even threw in a vista of Rocky, our favorite Great Northern goat!


Here’s what IMDb has to say about Narrow Margin:

If you have ANY information about this movie you’d like to share, please contact me at:, or leave a comment.  Thanks and enjoy the blog!



2 thoughts on “Narrow Margin 1990

  1. Pingback: Sleepers West 1941 | More Obscure Train Movies

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