Racing With The Moon 1984

Paramount Pictures

Spicoli and The Skunk! Yes, Ridgemont High’s favorite pothead is back — walking the tracks of the California Western Railroad in this “coming of age” picture set during World War 2.

Of course, the real star of the show is California Western #45, a Baldwin 2-8-2 class of 1924 originally built for an Oregon lumber company, coming to C.W.R. in 1965. Happily, #45 is still with us in Fort Bragg, CA and at last report is operational.

Let’s watch buddies Henry “Hopper” Nash (played by Sean Penn) and Nicky / Bud (played by Nicolas Cage) hop freights along the C.W.R. and say their goodbyes (finale) at the really cool Fort Bragg depot.

Hey, there might even be a brief interlude between Hopper and Caddie (played by Elizabeth McGovern) somewhere in this review. All in good taste.

Read on and enjoy!

Here comes California Western #44 with a short freight as the picture begins. It was renumbered #44 after a rebuild to operational status specifically for this movie. Later, (movie’s ending), the 2-8-2 would get her #45 back.

Smoking his doog, Hopper watches as two small boys place pennies on the rail, in the time-honored tradition.

Great telephoto shot with the whistle blasting away. It is a short freight of CW #44, boxcar, gondola, boxcar and caboose. Bringing up the markers is, I believe, CW caboose #11 which is currently being restored.

Originally built in 1936, the caboose is correct for the era portrayed (1942-1943), but the rolling stock is much too modern by at least 25 years. I’m sure the railroad just grabbed whatever they had on hand for filmmaking.

The small boys retrieve their flattened coppers and scamper off. The stoic Hopper ambles down the track as the camera pulls back. Love that derail post!

Big chunk of movie left off HERE

The next train scene is 51 minutes in. It’s night time (shooting day for night). Nicky & Hopper hear the approach of the steam locomotive. Nicky challenges him to “Race with me, Hop!”

(Yes, I lightened many of the “night” pictures for clarity.)

Impressive shot as the train rounds the bend. Looks like the same consist from the movie’s opening. Nick Cage makes a great face as he gets psyched up for the train hopping.

As CW #44 bears down on them, the boys step away at the last moment and run alongside the freight. Soon both are hanging onto the rungs of the gondola in the moonlight.

3/4 view of the freight as it passes the camera. Detail shot of the whistle blowing and finally a going away shot after both boys have dropped off.

Another huge chunk of movie left off HERE.

Interlude. Heavy discussion going on between Hopper and Caddie along the tracks (same location as the opening scene); Let’s go swimming! In winter. Oh, that water is COLD…

Finale. Closeup of Baldwin builder’s plate on the front of the CW #45. At the Fort Bragg depot (renamed “Point Muir” for filming), two small boys chat with the engineer.

Another view of the station has Hopper saying goodbye to Mom and Dad as Caddie and Nicky look on; Behind Hopper’s folks are a couple of very modern-looking bulkhead flatcars with steel-banded bunks of lumber.

The whistle blows, #45’s running gear in a “rods-down” pose; and Caddie is curious why the guys haven’t gotten on board yet; because they want to race after it and jump on!

Which is exactly what they do. Note the “California Western – The Redwood Route” sticker pasted on the rear car. The lads are hanging on the side steps as the credits roll.

Here’s what IMDb has to say about Racing With The Moon:

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!


Epilogue: WordPress messed with the global settings (Highlight feature) again. I change color of plain text or link, save my work, go back in and I get a block YELLOW highlight. So, apologizes for the lack of color. W.P. just couldn’t leave well enough alone. I will continue to research for a fix.


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