Tag Archives: 4-6-2 steam locomotive

Shanghai Express 1932

Paramount Pictures

Like last month’s Union Depot 1932, I’d like to thank Danny at the Pre-Code.com blog for introducing me to yet another obscure train movie.

There are only two thespians I had previously heard of in this picture: Marlene Dietrich, of course, as Shanghai Lily and Eugene Pallette as Sam Salt. Mr. Pallette was almost instantly recognizable by his voice alone. Film goers may remember him as Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938 (“Give me back my mutton!“).

The real star of the show was Southern Pacific Railroad #2428, a P-3 class 4-6-2 Baldwin-built steam locomotive. I believe this was the same engine used to represent two different trains. Pulling out of Peiping (Peking), the engine is numbered 4234, then the “hostage train” is numbered 2428. To further complicate things, there are only Chinese characters in the number boards to reference, but at least the wheel arrangement matches.

Anyhoo, let’s take a look at Hollywood’s interpretation of Chinese rail transport during an ongoing civil war. Hen hao, xièxiè !

Fixing to leave Peiping, the engineer looks back for the highball. Cab side lettering reads “4234” in Chinese characters; Later on in the movie, the engine characters are switched to “2428”.

Here is a link to sister SP locomotive #2429 to see what our film’s 4-6-2 looks like without the set dressing.

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Union Depot 1932

First National Pictures

I think I heard the word, “swell” about a dozen times in this movie…which made me giggle. It’s kind of corny, but relevant slang for the times. Now, before I get too carried away here, I want to thank Danny at the Pre-Code.com blog for tipping me off about this movie. His review of this flick was a great inspiration and help in understanding what the heck was going on.

For a picture mostly filmed in the studio, Union Depot had a respectable train allotment including two Southern Pacific steam locomotives I could identify, a named Pullman 12-1 sleeper and the pre-LAUPT Southern Pacific Central Station to name a few. And let’s not overlook the enormous Union Depot set itself built in the studio — which would be re-used in many more upcoming movies.

Joan Blondell (Yowza!) plays chorus girl Ruth Collins alongside the rakish Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as hobo/bum Chick Miller who cleans up nicely (literally) before he meets his gal pal.

Let’s go down to the station and see what’s happening. All Abooooooarrrrd!!!

Joan turns on a dazzling smile as she and Doug discuss travel plans. In the background is the Union Depot soundstage which included offices, a cafe, bathrooms, waiting room with wooden pews, numbered gates to trains and columns. Lots of columns.

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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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Station Master 1954

National Film Board of Canada

This film was recommended to me by Pete! It’s the third National Film Board of Canada movie I have reviewed on my blogs and the first to mainly feature Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). This is the story of CP station master Dalton Henry and his crew in little Finch, Ontario. The Canadian Pacific had a crossing here with a New York Central (NYC) branch line to Ottawa.

Steam was still active in Eastern Canada at the time and there is a nice mix of trains on both railroads. The CP rails still exist through Finch, but the NYC branch was abandoned shortly thereafter in February 1957.

This black & white short packs a lot of railroad action into its 15 minutes and is a poignant look at the way things used to be on the railway. Highball!

Out in front of the depot, a section gang is busily shoveling snow from switches and the crossing diamond. Up in the interlocking tower, Charlie lights up a Player’s and checks his pocket watch. Note the nearby telegraph key and dispatcher’s phone on a scissors arm.

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The Plymouth Express 1991

Picture Partnership Productions

It’s “Urk-Yul” Poirot! Yes, everyone’s favorite Belgie detective, Hercule Poirot (played by David Suchet) is once more investigating a murder — this time on a steam train from London’s Paddington Station to Bristol (and eventually Plymouth).

Our first steam engine encounter is in the credits of every TV episode of the series (see above). It looks to be an “artist’s conception” of a London and North Eastern Railway Class A4 streamlined 4-6-2 designed by Sir Nigel Gresley.

Today’s episode features two different Southern Railway (U.K.) steam engines as well as location shooting at Hull Paragon Railway Station (standing in for London’s Paddington, Bristol & Plymouth) and along the Bluebell Railway.

In a moving crane shot, we find SR #777 “Sir Lamiel” pulling its’ four-car train into Plymouth…er Hull Station. A grisly discovery is about to be made onboard!

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Appointment With Danger 1950

Paramount Pictures

Let’s hear it for the Post Office! Or to quote from the film’s opening with triumphant march music playing in the background: “We’re proud of our Post Office, because we have confidence in its efficiency”. Well, things have changed a bit since 1950, but back in the day….

Many thanks to reader Mark Herrmann who tipped me off about this film noir goodie. After purchasing the DVD, I researched it and discovered train scenes filmed in Indiana AND Southern California. In addition to Alan Ladd (who plays the tough-as-nails Postal Inspector, Al Goddard), there are small parts played by Jack Webb (“My name’s Friday”) and Harry Morgan as two gang henchmen. That’s Al stepping off the caboose above.

As always, I’m gonna concentrate on the railroad pulchritude and leave the plot and gangster genre for others who may follow. C’mon, let’s check out trains from NYC, Pere Marquette, C&NW, Pennsylvania and Union Pacific railroads!

Gary (Indiana) Union Station was a beautiful structure when constructed in 1910 – as well as a pivotal plot point in this movie. Located between the New York Central and Baltimore & Ohio mainlines, both roads were served by this two-story edifice.

In these two views, we get a look inside and out of the passenger terminal. The depot still exists, but is literally a shell of its former self. That’s a 1949 Checker Cab (Thanks, big brother Mark!).

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Fried Green Tomatoes 1991

Universal Pictures

Chick Flick! Why would I bother with such a film, you ask? Why, it’s because one of the “Ladies” is the gorgeous Atlanta & West Point Railroad # 290, a 4-6-2 Pacific, built by the Lima Locomotive Works, Lima, Ohio, in 1926. As of 2022, A&WP #290 is still with us, currently being cosmetically restored for display by the good folks at the Southeastern Railway Museum, Duluth, Georgia.

Much of the railroad scenes were filmed in and around Juliette, Georgia using a former Southern Railway line (Macon to Atlanta). A&WP #290 and the railroad was used not only as a plot point, but can be seen in the background of some interior shots.

Fried Green Tomatoes anyone? All aboard for the Whistle Stop depot and cafe!

Isn’t she a beauty? Strutting her stuff for the cameras comes A&WP #290 past the “Whistle Stop” depot. Restored in 1989 for excursion service in and around Atlanta, A&WP #290 is seen here “hot” as it would have appeared pulling The Crescent between Atlanta and Montgomery, Alabama in 1926-1954. Photo courtesy SE Railway Museum website.

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The Flying Kipper 1989

Shepperton Studios

Henry the Green Engine! At age 6, I received this book which introduced me to the magical railway of the fictional Island of Sodor. Imagine my surprise when as an adult, someone started making little model railroad videos of the same stories I used to read as a kid. I was hooked.

This review comes from my DVD, “Thomas & Friends, The Early Years”. I am concentrating on just the story, “The Flying Kipper”, as that was one of my faves. Narrated by Ringo Starr, I will note the slight changes made in the story line from the book to the movie and present the images side by side for comparison. This episode was originally broadcast on 2 April 1989 (from IMDB.com).

The original books were written by The Rev. W. Awdry with illustrations by C. Reginald Dalby. The videos were created and adapted by Britt Allcroft.

Dontbesilly! Dontbesilly! Trock, trick! Trock, trick! Henry #3 is a 4-6-0 green engine with red stripes. Here he is hustling along with the Kipper in the pre-dawn darkness. Note in the book picture (right), he is pulling about 9 freight cars.

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Railroadin’ 1929

Hal Roach Studios

Whilst grazing around on YouTube, I came upon this absolute gem of an early black and white talkie. Railroadin’ features the Little Rascals / Our Gang kids on location at Santa Fe Railway’s Redondo Junction roundhouse in Los Angeles.

The star of the show is AT&SF #1373, a 4-6-2 built by Baldwin in 1913 and scrapped in 1949. In addition, we catch glimpses of a whole bevy of steam locomotives at the roundhouse which I’ll try to sort out later in this review.

Many thanks to “chrisbungostudios” on YouTube for putting together a most useful “Filming Locations” video, which will be linked to further down in my write up.

It’s iron horses galore in the last golden days of the Roaring Twenties! Let’s check it out.

Santa Fe Railway #1373 belches copious amounts of black smoke skyward (sanding the flues) as it runs along a side track. Notice the string of boonie old “outside braced” wooden box cars in the background.

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Loaded For War 1944

Santa Fe Telefilm Recording

Wow, early first generation diesels star alongside Santa Fe Railway’s magnificent fleet of steam locomotives in this color film showing the AT&SF was doing its bit to help win World War 2.

As a vital link to the Pacific Theater, Santa Fe received the lion’s share of EMD FT diesel locomotives built before and during the war.

Let’s take a look at how one railroad hauled military, freight and passengers along with all the facilities needed to keep the system going. Santa Fe, All the Way!

An EMC E6 locomotive gets its slant nose scrubbed down as a Baldwin 4-6-4 backs up alongside; a 4 unit set of EMD FT’s pulls past a very smoky iron horse.

GM’s Electro-Motive Division designed the famous red and silver “Warbonnet” paint scheme as well as the more somber, but still classy blue and yellow for the freight FT’s.

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