Tag Archives: 20th Century Fox

Loves Labor Won 1948


20th Century Fox
Terrytoons Studios

Here I come, to save the daaaay! Yes, it’s Mighty Mouse once more battling Oil Can Harry for the affections of lovely Pearl Pureheart.

This train-laced, Terrytoons animated short, is done in a wonderful, fake-opera, melodramatic style with MM (our hero) belting out tenor, OCH (our villian) singing bass/baritone and PP (our damsel in distress) warbling soprano.

The art work is right up there with Warner Brothers for quality and the animators did a great job with backgrounds and interiors. Lots of action and enough asides and adult-gags to keep it interesting.

On with the show!

Wonderfully-detailed coach interior right down to the red-plush seats and pot-bellied stove; Standard old-fashioned steam locomotive about to change into an anthropomorphic object at the hands of Oil Can Harry.

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Oklahoma! 1955

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.

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Love Me Tender 1956

20th Century Fox

B&W Cinemascope

Elvis! Guess what the baby said! Okay, I’m already getting off track here (pun intended), but I always think of the above Apes of Wrath 1959 cartoon when Elvis’ name comes up.

Yeah, Elvis. Here he appears in his first movie as brother Clint, of the notorious, train-robbing Reno Gang. Although he isn’t shown next to a train at any point, he aids and abets his brothers in their crime spree. Actually, Elvis was brought in as an excuse to include some of his musical numbers and be the third figure in a messy love triangle. More about that later.

Today’s movie features TWO studio-owned stream locomotives: 1. Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22, “The Inyo” and; 2. Dardanelle & Russellville 4-4-0 #8. Both of these locomotives are still with us and located in Carson City, Nevada.

It’s the Confederates vs. the Damn Yankees towards the end of the Civil War. Here comes the train. Time to rob the payroll!

Presented here are two contemporary views of our feature’s two steam locomotives at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. While the Inyo is operational, the D&R #8 is stored awaiting restoration.

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The Great Train Robbery 1968

20th Century Fox

Batman! When I was a wee lad, this was the hottest show on T.V. Mind you, we didn’t have a color TV set yet, and most of the campy humor and famous guest stars went right over my head. It wasn’t until I was an adult, that I could watch the DVD’s and really appreciate all this series had to offer.

There’s not much in the train department of this episode, but with a title like that, I just couldn’t pass up a quick review. Besides, this 3rd season episode included Batgirl (played by Yvonne Craigrahr-RAHR!). Fair reader, consider it your Christmas bonus.

In this second episode of a two-parter, Batman (played by Adam West) and Robin (played by Burt Ward) are battling Shame (a parody of Shane) and his gang, whose plans include robbing a train of a large sum of legal tender.

As stated previously, because the railroad optics are so thin, I’m going to include some colorful Batman classic scenes. It’ll be fun!

The only actual railroad scene (from archival footage) is this brief clip of a Southern Pacific mail, express, and passenger train seen here. More details about this clip later on, including a guess as to which train it might actually be.

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Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid 1969

20th Century Fox

Having won 4 Oscars, today’s movie is hardly obscure, but the use of three, count ’em THREE steam locomotives makes this a flick worth reviewing. Filmed on the Denver and Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) narrow gauge as well as an obscure Mexican 3-footer, there is a tasty selection of railroad hype to sink our teeth into.

D&RGW K-28 2-8-2 Baldwins 473 and 478 are the big stars along with some studio-constructed baggage cars and D&RGW replica coaches 330, 335, 336 as well as business car B-7.

The main actors? Oh, them. Paul Newman played Butch Cassidy with Robert Redford as The Sundance Kid.

Grateful thanks to Larry Jensen and his magnificent book, “Hollywood’s Railroads – Volume Three – Narrow Gauge Country” for being my go-to source for all-things-railroad in this classic Western.

So grab the dynamite and let’s go rob a baggage car or two. Stick ’em up!

There’s lots of leaping in this movie. Here we see The Kid jumping from car to car in the second hold up and making like a bird, bailing off the cab of #473 in the third robbery.

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Night Train To Paris 1964

20th Century Fox

It’s New Year’s Eve and former OSS agent Alan Holiday finds himself riding the Boat Train along with a bunch of swinging members of the “Bear Ski Club”. Alas, no bare ski bunnies appear in this film. Damn. Although mostly filmed at Shepperton Studios, the train quotient is adequate including some brief scenes loading the passenger cars onto the ferry.

My favorite set is the discotheque car with lots of dancing and noise and adult beverages. This stage doubles as a place to hide out from various rowdies and officials looking to do Agent Holiday serious harm or incarceration.

If this is starting to sound like a James Bond knock off, you’re right. Methinks Fox was trying to cash in on United Artists’ hugely-successful spy caper franchise.

Anyway. Let’s enjoy the train scenes for what they’re worth and perhaps beam on a few lovelies along the way. Tous à bord!

“Night Ferry for Paris, Brussels, Azusa and Cucamonga, now leaving on Track 2. All Aboarrrrrrd!”; 16 years before he appeared in Airplane! 1980, Leslie Nielsen (as Alan Holiday) was honing his comedy chops alongside Aliza Gur (as Catherine Carrel), the former Miss Israel 1960. Rahr-RAHR!

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Sleepers West 1941

20th Century Fox

What could be more fun than a Fox “B” picture mostly taking place on a train? Private dick Michael Shayne (played by Lloyd Nolan) is transporting a surprise witness to a trial in San Francisco. Along the way, Shayne has to sort through plenty of onboard suspects who would like him (and his incognito witness) to not reach the courtroom.

If this plot sounds familiar, it was reused at least twice in 1952’s The Narrow Margin and 1990’s Narrow Margin.

Most of the onboard action takes place on sets, but there’s plenty of live train scenes including use of a Santa Fe Railway locomotive and depot location I could actually identify.

Even a “B” picture can have great, detailed scenes if you’ve got access to 20th Century Fox’s resources. Marble ticket counter, chandeliers, neon signs and arched track gates.

Can you spot the one little error in the train departure board? On most railroads, Denver to San Francisco would be considered westbound and thus the train should have an odd number. As an Amtrak conductor once said, “The odds go to San Francisco”.

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A Ticket to Tomahawk 1950

20th Century Fox

I actually reviewed Tomahawk back in the early days of Obscure Train Movies — It just wasn’t much of a review. Today, I hope to do a better job revisiting A Ticket To Tomahawk in all its Technicolor glory. This is the movie that put the Durango and Silverton D&RGW narrow gauge line on the map. Not only did people come to ride the little train in Southwestern Colorado, moviemakers returned to film other pictures too numerous to list here.

The star of the show is Rio Grande Southern #20, 4-6-0 3-foot narrow gauge steam locomotive. #20 was originally built for the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad in 1899 by Schenectady Locomotive Works (Alco). For its movie appearance, RGS #20 was decorated in a colorful paint scheme and named “Emma Sweeny” as Tomahawk & Western Railroad #1.

Just look at all that detail! Red and gold paint accentuates the green Emma Sweeny signboard. Antlers on the headlight box and white “extra train” flags flapping in the breeze. In another view, Emma poses in good light near Silverton.

Apologies for the fuzzy screen caps. AFAIK, Fox never released Tomahawk on DVD, so I had to make do with an aftermarket product.

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Emperor of the North 1973

emp038 emp058

20th Century Fox

Filmed along the Oregon, Pacific & Eastern short line, this movie treats us to TWO operational steam locomotives pulling an eclectic mix of rolling stock past the cameras. The train scenes are sublime although the actors employed frequently go way over the top in the overacting department. Shatner-level carpet chewing. Anyway…

The real stars are OP&E #19 (2-8-2 Baldwin-built 1915) and OP&E #5 (2-8-0 Alco-built 1922) and happily, both engines are still with us. #19 is being rebuilt at the Age of Steam Roundhouse and #5 can be found at the Galveston Railroad Museum (renumbered to 555).

Many thanks to James Tiroch’s Cine Trains Project for helping me identify the heritage of these locomotives. The link includes an exhaustive history of both locomotives.

Oh, the actors? Well, filmmakers brought on board three ENORMOUS hams, Borgnine, Marvin and Carradine, but I’ll be ignoring them for the most part. There’s far too much steam locomotive pulchritude to savor instead. Highball!

emp135

OP&E #5 on a passenger train overtakes OP&E #19 in the siding with a freight. In the background, we see a lumber mill featuring one of those cool, old-time wood waste burners. OP&E #5 (appearing here as #27), also was seen as #4 in the movie.

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