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.
Here we are at Claremore, (an actual Oklahoma town and junction of the Frisco and Missouri Pacific railroads). Notice how the editing angle changed between the two versions. I’m thinking they built this depot just for the movie. It appears to be painted in standard Espee depot colors. SP #1673 is really smoking it up!
This train scene in Oklahoma was filmed on an SP branch line at Elgin, Arizona (about 58 miles SE of Tucson) and only lasts for about 8 minutes of screen time. The railroad track has long since been abandoned, but you can still see the right of way on Google Satellite.
Todd A-O gives us the best views of the train arriving. Will Parker (played by Gene Nelson) is just in from Kansas City (where he won a rodeo contest – and prize money $$$). Here he presents a gift to Aunt Eller (played by Charlotte Greenwood).
From a different angle, we see Will talking to Eller with the locomotive in the background. In C.S., the fireman is smoking. In A-O, he is not.
Todd A-O has the best view of the 2-6-0 wheel arrangement on the fireman’s side.
Will brought back a viewing tube with scantily-clad women for the boys to enjoy. Of course, Aunt Eller has to take a peek…”That Hussy!…How do you turn this thing to see the other picture…”
I love the turquoise-colored combine coach! You better believe this movie was filmed in Technicolor — they used every color of the rainbow. Notice the two school girls mooning at Will? They were actually 23 & 26 at the time, but could pass for 12. There’s quite a backstory in IMDb Trivia about how they wound up in the picture.
The markings on the combine appear to say St. L. L. M. & S Ry. as well as U.S. Mail / Baggage. Saint Louis, Lincoln, Minneapolis & Southern Railway, maybe? Maybe not. ;p
Hmm…I feel a song coming on. “Everything’s up to date in Kansas City.“
Notice how the colors photographed differently from C.S. to A-O.
Oh, there’s some tappin’ and ropin’ and high-kickin’ in this number!
From the platform, the action moves to the flat car loaded with crates and barrels. Those sturdy shipping containers make a dandy stage for prancing and dancing.
Uh-oh! The train’s leaving! Will (or more likely his stunt double) is up on the caboose doing some high-intensity kicks and the girls leap into the arms of some beefy cowpokes.
Impaired Side Clearance! Will is still flailing away in front of the cupola, then calls for his horse, finally bailing off the caboose as the train pulls out of town, ending our train review.
Rest of the movie left off HERE!
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Oklahoma!:
If you have ANY information about this movie you’d like to share, please contact me at: Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com, or leave a comment. Thanks and enjoy the blog!