Tag Archives: section sleeper

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”.

Continue reading

The Sting 1973

Universal Pictures

New York Central Railroad’s famed 20th Century Limited is the setting for a key portion of today’s movie review. Leaving New York City at 4:15pm and arriving Chicago at 9:00am, Westbound train #25 was a Pullman-only heavyweight train when the movie takes place (September 1936).

Train scenes were filmed in Chicago at Union Station, LaSalle Street Station, and the 43rd Street “L” station. There were also a few, brief railroad shots filmed in the Los Angeles area.

The onboard sequence appears to have utilized a heavyweight “section” sleeper made up for daytime configuration. They could have been using studio-owned passenger cars or even a set for this.

Let’s take a ride on the Century!

A view inside Henry Gondorff’s (played by Paul Newman) bedroom. Painted apple green, I really dig the fixtures and Pullman washcloths, but that huge liquid soap dispenser looks out of place somehow.  Exterior of LaSalle Street Station in Chicago.  It seems mighty dark for the train to be arriving at 9:00am!

Continue reading

Some Like it Hot 1959

hot001 hot002

United Artists

Tony Curtis is “Josephine” and Jack Lemmon is “Daphne” in this screwball comedy featuring 24 minutes of the boys dressing up as women to travel with an all-girl band on board a train headed for Florida. What’s not to like?

Add to this frothy situation the presence of Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk and travel on an old section Pullman sleeper never looked better.

According to IMDb Trivia, filmmakers used Pullman heavyweight, “Clover Colony” for many of the interior shots. This car is still with us and can be visited at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

hot002a

Although the movie was filmed in black and white, many of the studio stills were in color including this group photo of the girl band onboard Clover Colony.

I swear that looks like Angela Lansbury on the far right, but she’s nowhere listed in the film’s credits. It was most likely actress Joan Shawlee who played bandleader Sweet Sue.

Continue reading

Shadow of a Doubt 1943

 shad001 shad002

Universal Pictures

Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten star alongside the Northwestern Pacific Railroad (NWP) in this Hitchcock classic. I know. It’s not particularly obscure, but I already had a DVD lying around…

Anyways, the two train scenes in this picture feature steam engines and old heavyweight passenger equipment. The coming and going of Uncle Charlie (Cotten) happens at the Santa Rosa train depot which is still in existence as a visitor’s center.

During filming, NWP was a subsidiary of Southern Pacific Railroad and we are treated to 3 different locomotives: #140, an Alco-built 4-6-0 (seen above), #142 a Baldwin-built 4-6-0 (seen below) and #2708, a Baldwin-built 2-8-0. A sister NWP 4-6-0 #112 survives and is preserved at the California State Railroad Museum…the only NWP steamer remaining.

shad015

A little boy is mesmerized by the smoke, steam and churning drivers as NWP #142 arrives in Santa Rosa with Uncle Charlie aboard.

Continue reading