Bound For Glory 1976

United Artists

Four! Count ’em, FOUR steam locomotives star in today’s movie review. Just to whet your appetite, the four steamers are:

  1. Sierra Railroad #3, an 1891 Rogers-built 4-6-0.
  2. Sierra Railroad #28, a 1922 Baldwin-built 2-8-0.
  3. Sierra Railroad #34, a 1925 Baldwin-built 2-8-2.
  4. McCloud River Railroad #25, a 1925 Alco-built 2-6-2.

Today’s feature is a 1930’s biography of folk singer Woody Guthrie (played by David Carradine). Filmmakers really went all-out, pulling 34 obsolete freight cars out of a scrap line and painting over most railroad identification marks.

Train scenes were filmed along the Western Pacific, Tidewater Southern and Sierra Railroads. Let’s jump right in and enjoy THIS TRAIN-laden bio pic.

Electric traction also made a brief appearance in this flick. Woody/David is about to step off Pacific Electric #1058 in Los Angeles on his way to the studio. With a trolley pole reaching for wires that aren’t there, this Red Car had to rely on an internal-combustion engine of some sort.

About 33 minutes into the picture comes our first train scene. It’s a double header, with #34 leading #28. If you look closely in the first frame, you can see smoke from either a 3rd locomotive or a smoke unit.

Hopping the freight reveals they are traveling through Altamont Pass on W.P. rails (note the paralleling Southern Pacific rails out the door). Woody discovers the boxcar (WP #21379) is already full of hobos.

This being a gritty, epic, over-long (147 minutes) movie, a brawl starts amongst the hobos and Woody is consequently ejected from Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF) boxcar #2102. Great stunt, though.

Running alongside, Woody manages to climb up on another boxcar as they roll through a tunnel. Oh, I know where this bridge picture is. From my book “Portrait of a Silver Lady” (Benson/MacGregor) Page 139, Photo by Tom Brown. That’s the WP’s California Zephyr running through the same bridge as a comparison.

Passing shot of the two hobos riding the roof. In the second shot notice the smoke. Diesels actually pulled the 34 car train and filmmakers used the aforementioned smoke unit to simulate a steam engine.

Uh-oh. Railroad dicks and local law enforcement are on hand to confront the trainload of hobos as they arrive in a freight yard. I think these next scenes are filmed on the Sierra Railroad at Jamestown. #34 is lettered as T.P. Railroad #1496 (Texas and Pacific Railroad maybe?) and #28 is badged as T.P. Railroad #3582.

Various scenes of the authorities rousting the migrants from the train:

  1. I’m really digging that funky wooden caboose on the left.
  2. Herding the homeless off AT&SF boxcar #2102.
  3. A smirking sheriff discovers Woody & company on the roof.

Making its cameo appearance, riding the turntable at the Jamestown roundhouse, is movie star locomotive Sierra Railroad #3. The 19th Century Rogers 4-6-0, is here lettered AT&SF RR #349.

In addition to the double headed steam engines, the equipment seen are steel heavyweight coaches lettered A.T.& S.F. Railroad. I believe some of these cars are Southern Pacific Harriman-era train coaches obtained by the Sierra Railroad for excursion service.

The hobos are told they can either pay for a ticket to ride the train out of town or be declared vagrants and jailed – OR – walk to the next town. Penniless Woody and others walk alongside the heavyweight cars as it pulls out. I love that silver step box in the rear vestibule of the last coach.

A great chunk of the movie left off HERE

What’s this? Western Pacific #2260, a General Electric U23B diesel, built June 1972 intrudes on this supposed 1930’s era scene. Blowing off steam is McCloud River Railroad #25, a 1925 Alco-built 2-6-2. #25 was renumbered #257 with no road name visible.

For comparison, is a picture I took of McC.R.R.R. #25 at Rockaway Beach, Oregon during an excursion on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. Photo taken September 2019 during the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway Historical Society convention.

Woody finally makes it out to Cali and unceremoniously tumbles off a boxcar. In the second view, McC.R.R.R. #25 charges by smoking up the trackside warehouse. This scene was probably filmed somewhere along the Tidewater Southern.

Romantic interlude!

Well, it turns out that old Woody (married) was quite the horndog. The movie shows his shacking up with a gal he picked up at a honky tonk bar and then later, as he got more famous singing on radio, he takes up with a richo sponsor & benefactor of the female persuasion. The cad. The bounder. BOO! HISS!

FINALLY, Woody sends for his long-suffering wife who travels out to Los Angeles with their two children (I told you he was no-good, schmuck.) HEY, that’s Ralphie’s Mom from A Christmas Story! (played by Melinda Dillon).

Also appearing is Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation! Eddie? EDDIE? (played by Randy Quaid).

Anyway. Back to the train scenes. Artist Woody flips out over his sponsors limiting what he can sing, hops a train out of town, and takes his music directly to the people in the migrant camps.

McCloud River RR #25(7) is ready in the yard to haul train-hopping Woody wherever he wants to go. Nice helicopter shots of the train trundling through the fields and over a wooden trestle (Tidewater Southern perhaps?). Last frame is Woody singing his way through a packing plant next to a SHIP & TRAVEL Burlington Route calendar thing. Looks like it’s Thursday.

Still more non-railroad movie detritus left off HERE

After much adventure and gratuitous violence, Woody finally returns to L.A. only to discover his Mrs. and the kids have left him. What to do? That’s right. BACK to the Western Pacific yard to hop the trusty McCloud River RR #25(7) outta town.

Oops. I stand corrected. Woody climbs up a refrigerator car on the next track over, then is seen playing his guitar on the roof as the credits roll.

Here’s what IMDb has to say about Bound For Glory:

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