Tag Archives: Feather River Canyon

Western Pacific Agent 1950

Lippert Pictures, Inc.

What better way to showcase Western Pacific Railroad’s spanking new streamliner (the California Zephyr) than shoehorning train footage into a Noir B picture?

The opening credits and first three minutes of this movie feature the CZ both inside and out with location shooting on Altamont Pass, Feather River Canyon and the WP Sacramento station.

This 72 minute potboiler tells the story of WP Special Agent Rod Kendall (played by Kent Taylor) who is tracking down the mad killer Frank Wicken (played by Mickey Knox).

All Aboard!

Is that Jack Benny talking to the statuesque blonde in the Vista Dome? ………WELL! Nah, no idea who he is, but his gal pal is actress Vera Marshe; Led by WP #801, an EMD A-B-B set of 1947 F3 locomotives worth 4500 hp, the California Zephyr glides into Sacramento. Quite a crowd on hand ready to board.

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Sudden Fear 1952

RKO Radio Pictures

A cross country train trip on a through sleeping car is the highlight of today’s feature. Believe it or not, back in the 1950’s, you could ride from New York City to Chicago, then on to San Francisco (Oakland) in the same sleeping car. Other railroads also offered similar coast to coast service.

What we see on screen (and out the window) is a wonderful mish-mosh of various railroads — some that would definitely NOT be on our movie’s NYCBurlingtonD&RGWWP routing.

Myra Hudson (played by Joan Crawford) is a successful playwright whose smash hit is running on Broadway. Whilst riding the train out of New York, she spots Lester Blaine (played by Jack Palance) boarding at an intermediate stop. Myra had rather abruptly dismissed Lester from her play. Well. This might be a touch uncomfortable.

Palance turned in a wonderfully-creepy performance in this picture and Crawford… oh, those scary eyebrows. No wonder she wound up portrayed in the campy horror classic, Mommie Dearest. “Tina!! Bring me the axe!”

Anyway. It’s film noir on a train and that’s always a winner. Remember The Narrow Margin, anyone?

Can’t have a noir flick without smoke. Through the haze we see the studio’s recreation of Grand Central Terminal.

Note in the background, Track 25: Commodore Vanderbilt (Train 67) and Track 24: State of Maine Express. Myra would have taken Train 67 which carried the through 10-6 sleeper.

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