James Garner is riding the narrow gauge rails of the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) Railroad in this Western spoof follow-up to 1969’s Support Your Local Sheriff!
Train scenes in this film were brief, but feature 4 different steam locomotives, one of which I’ve not been able to positively identify. A big shout out to Larry Jensen whose “Hollywood’s Railroads, Volume 3” book helped me identify one engine used on the CBS Studio City (CA) lot.
As usual, I’ll concentrate on the railroad scenes in my review, even though the movie itself is great fun to watch — back when Tinseltown knew how to make an enjoyable, entertaining picture.
Let’s take a trip on the 3-feet-between-the-rails Rio Grande railroad. Highball!!
D&RGW #478, a narrow gauge K-28 class 2-8-2 Alco class of 1924, leads a short train of “Grande Gold” and silver coaches along the Animas River on the Silverton Line.
Helicopter shots of this train were used at the beginning and ending of today’s reviewed movie.
Birdhouse Holdings / Qubo
It’s The Choo Choo Bob Show!! Roaring out of the Twin Cities of Minnesota comes this fun little (each episode is but 12 minutes long) children’s show — all about trains. There is a great article about the show HERE, which describes how it came to be. The show even has its own clubhouse and store in Saint Paul where episodes where/are filmed.
Each episode features a live action video of real railroading and for the purposes of this review, I have chosen the Milwaukee Road #261 steam engine trip.
Choo Choo Bob (played by Sam Heyn) and Engineer Paul (played by Paul Howe) take a ride down the Mississippi on former CMStP&P (now Canadian Pacific) tracks aboard the beautiful Cedar Rapids Skytop observation car.
Oh, yes. See the show’s logo at the top of this page? That image of a diesel locomotive looks familiar to me. We’ll be revisiting that image later on in this review. All Aboard!
Milwaukee Road S3 class 4-8-4 #261 (built by Alco – Schenectady in July 1944) gallops along at track speed whilst back in the Skytop, Bob and Paul enjoy the view. Friends of 261 operates and maintains this Minneapolis-based locomotive and train.
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!
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.
This made-for-TV movie stars TWO steam locomotives. The first is Texas State Railroad [TSR] #400, a Baldwin 2-8-2 built in 1917. The second is an Alco RS2 diesel locomotive #7 built circa 1947. (Alco diesels were always referred to as “honorary steam engines” by railfans, due to the copious amounts of black smoke belched skyward upon starting.)
#7 started life working for the Point Comfort & Northern Railroad in Texas, coming to TSR in 1975. Since this movie was filmed, the #7 has been repainted into a beautiful Southern Pacific “Black Widow” scheme.
James Garner (Yes, Mister Rockford Files) is the lead character in our motion picture and the film is the story of a mid-20th century railroad worker about to lose his job due to diesels replacing steam.
Many thanks to good friend Scott Tanner who slipped me a DVD of this flick for inclusion on this blog. And now, let’s see Rockford and the boys playing with their trains!
It appears to be early spring as TSR #400 and train roll through East Texas.