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.


With Los Angeles City Hall (Dah-da-Dump-da…) looming in the background, we get an unusual back view of Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. Filmmakers used stock footage of passengers loading an L.A. to San Francisco “Daylight” train. Note the two tiger-striped EMD switchers on adjacent depot tracks.

Highball! Notice over the conductor’s left shoulder, a unique “baggage-elevator”. These would be opened at station stops. Passengers would place their bags inside the elevator to be lifted to aisle level, thus saving much time during boarding.

With a fine head of steam, the Coast Daylight stomps under the signal bridge and past the LAUPT tower leaving Los Angeles. You can just make out a GS-4 class 4-8-4 streamlined locomotive on the point.

Our first, clear look at an Espee steam locomotive is pulling the second section of train #99. SP #4312 is a Class Mt-1, 4-8-2 “Mountain” built by Alco in 1924. 4312 is pulling a boxcar and mostly heavyweight coaches (the first section of #99 probably had all the streamlined equipment).

I believe filmmakers chartered this locomotive and train — It is frequently seen in various runbys and close ups.

Motive power for the train is SP #2850, a class C-10, 2-8-0 “Consolidation” built in SP’s own shops (Sacramento). The train consist (as stated previously) is a baggage car and four heavyweight coaches.


Lounge singer Eden Lane (played by Barbara Payton) is being taken to the hoosegow by Detective Ray Patrick (played by Paul Langton) and police matron Mrs. Thomas (played by Madge Cleveland). This is our first “onboard” scene with rear screen projection. Note the rather spartan quarters in this obvious studio mockup of a Pullman compartment.

As darkness falls, we see repeated views of SP #2850 charging around a curve at a crossing.


At an intermediate stop, the train is now led by a GS-class 4-8-4 — can’t see a train number or engine #. This might just be stock footage at a Los Angeles-area SP depot such as Glendale. The folks here are definitely boarding heavyweight equipment.

Gah! Eden has just spotted Frank Dean (the guy she’s supposed to have killed). Buurrrrrrrp!!


The matron has headed off to the diner. Detective Ray has always had his doubts about Eden’s guilt and the woman’s encounter with a supposed dead man clinches it. Ray sends the matron off to the dining car to get them some food. This is just a ruse. Ray and Eden are going to jump off the train!


Best shot of the X2850 locomotive as the engineer leans way out of the cab for his portrait.

In the studio mockup vestibule, Ray and Eden “join the birds” at a spot where the train is only going 10mph.

Large chunk of movie left off HERE


Interlude: On the trail of suspects, Ray encounters glamourous photog Patsy Flint (played by Tracey Robertsva va VOOM!). Later, he climbs uphill through a snowstorm to nab Eden Lane (ROWF!). Okay, back to the show.

The big finish, finds Ray and his boss (played by Robert Shayne) tailing the elderly couple seated behind them in a depot waiting room. As the train arrives, it is led by SP #4458, a GS-5 class “war baby” 4-8-4, which entered service in 1942.

Along with sister locomotive #4459, these two comprised the entire GS-5 class and were the only steam locomotives on Southern Pacific built with roller bearings on all axles.

Interesting passenger consist seen here. This appears to be equipment from SP’s Sunset Limited which featured fluted stainless steel with a red stripe above the windows. Notice all Southern Pacific markings have been removed from the sides.

Yoo-hoo! Charging past the shiny coaches comes Miss Sparrow, (played by Kate MacKenna) to meet the boys and hopefully identify Frank Dean.

Now onboard, Bert & Ray confront the suspect in his compartment. “Where was you on the night of….?”

I won’t give away the ending. Suffice to say, there’s a surprise waiting for Ray back at the office. Woof!

If you’d like to watch it yourself, it is on YouTube:

Here’s what IMDb has to say about Murder is my Beat:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048396/

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!

THE END

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