Tag Archives: Chicago & North Western Railway

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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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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Case of the 12th Wildcat 1965

CBS Television Network

Oh, this one should make both my brother and my wife go, “Gah!!…NOOOOoooo!!” (neither can STAND Perry Mason for various reasons, best not discussed here).

But…it’s my blog and there’s trains in it, so a-posting I will go. Three different railroads are seen in stock footage, but more about that later.

Originally broadcast on Halloween night 1965, “12th Wildcat” featured a Southern Pacific passenger train from San Francisco to Los Angeles on SP’s Coast Line. The action takes place in the dark of early morning onboard a lounge car and a couple sleepers in the first 12 minutes of the feature.

Come along and watch with amusement as I search for clues to the identity of some poorly-lit railroad equipment. Objection! Counsel is assuming a fact not in evidence and is leading the witness!

I include this interior shot of the lounge car purely for this guy’s wonderful, leering smirk.

It’s probably just a set, but includes a well-stocked bar — which fuels a drunken souse leading to murder!

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