Tag Archives: Steam Locomotive

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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Murder is my Beat 1955

Allied Artists Productions

I first heard about this B noir picture from reader Tony Wilson. As I researched, I discovered a good copy on both archive.org and YouTube. The film features at least 3 different Southern Pacific Railroad steam locomotives pulling various heavyweight and streamlined passenger equipment.

It’s a relatively short flick at just 77 minutes, but there are two train sequences at the 31 minute and 70 minute marks packed full of onboard and train exterior goodness. I had a great time discovering the equipment used — made harder by B&W night-time footage. And there might just be a little cheesecake in there for our more mature readers.

Let’s go ride “The Friendly” Southern Pacific!

Churning, spoked drivers roll along an impeccably-groomed roadbed…which segues into this shot of a steamer pulling a 5 car passenger train down a weed-choked right-of-way.

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Love Me Tender 1956

20th Century Fox

B&W Cinemascope

Elvis! Guess what the baby said! Okay, I’m already getting off track here (pun intended), but I always think of the above Apes of Wrath 1959 cartoon when Elvis’ name comes up.

Yeah, Elvis. Here he appears in his first movie as brother Clint, of the notorious, train-robbing Reno Gang. Although he isn’t shown next to a train at any point, he aids and abets his brothers in their crime spree. Actually, Elvis was brought in as an excuse to include some of his musical numbers and be the third figure in a messy love triangle. More about that later.

Today’s movie features TWO studio-owned stream locomotives: 1. Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22, “The Inyo” and; 2. Dardanelle & Russellville 4-4-0 #8. Both of these locomotives are still with us and located in Carson City, Nevada.

It’s the Confederates vs. the Damn Yankees towards the end of the Civil War. Here comes the train. Time to rob the payroll!

Presented here are two contemporary views of our feature’s two steam locomotives at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. While the Inyo is operational, the D&R #8 is stored awaiting restoration.

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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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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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Bound For Glory 1976

United Artists

Four! Count ’em, FOUR steam locomotives star in today’s movie review. Just to whet your appetite, the four steamers are:

  1. Sierra Railroad #3, an 1891 Rogers-built 4-6-0.
  2. Sierra Railroad #28, a 1922 Baldwin-built 2-8-0.
  3. Sierra Railroad #34, a 1925 Baldwin-built 2-8-2.
  4. McCloud River Railroad #25, a 1925 Alco-built 2-6-2.

Today’s feature is a 1930’s biography of folk singer Woody Guthrie (played by David Carradine). Filmmakers really went all-out, pulling 34 obsolete freight cars out of a scrap line and painting over most railroad identification marks.

Train scenes were filmed along the Western Pacific, Tidewater Southern and Sierra Railroads. Let’s jump right in and enjoy THIS TRAIN-laden bio pic.

Electric traction also made a brief appearance in this flick. Woody/David is about to step off Pacific Electric #1058 in Los Angeles on his way to the studio. With a trolley pole reaching for wires that aren’t there, this Red Car had to rely on an internal-combustion engine of some sort.

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Pal Joey 1957

Columbia Pictures

Sinatra does San Francisco! Frank Sinatra plays Joey Evans, a crooning, womanizing cad, unceremoniously tossed onto a Southern Pacific train headed for the Oakland Mole. We are treated to Frank’s encounter with SP #4443, a GS-4 class 4-8-4 locomotive in Espee black/silver. In addition, is footage inside the Mole and a ferry boat ride across the Bay.

I originally reviewed just the Pal Joey movie opening credits (see bottom of this posting for link). Once I started researching the movie, however, I discovered there were additional railroad-related scenes (Berkeley train station, Embarcadero building, Alco switcher & cable cars), so I wound up purchasing the DVD for those scenes as well.

The movie itself is a lot of fun with Rita Hayworth (rahr-RAHR!) and Kim Novak (hubba-HUBBA!) as rivals for Frank’s affections. Let’s take a closer look at San Francisco rails from the last golden days of the 1950’s. Highball! (very dry, please…).

Two soldiers jog past SP #4443 as it comes to a stop with its short train (baggage car and 3 coaches).

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Black Train 2017

Universal Music Group

Domo arigato, Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi! I was researching future Obscure Train Movies and totally by accident, stumbled across this fantastic music video.

Mostly drone-filmed on the Nevada Northern Railway, Black Train features NN Ry.’s locomotive #40, a 1910 product of Baldwin Locomotive Works, towing a string of boxcars and caboose through the desert.

Of course, the entire thing is in Japanese, but every now and then, Tsuyoshi says, “Black Train” in clear English. Check him out above riding the front of the steam engine, and having the time of his life. C’mon, let’s review this video, the 4-6-0 and its consist!

This is my favorite screen cap of the engineer’s side of the train. #40 is towing four NN wood boxcars and a yellow caboose. More about them later. The nearby copper mines (Kennecott) were the railway’s raison d’être.

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Onion Pacific 1940

Paramount Pictures
A Max Fleisher Cartoon

It’s Popeye the Sailor (voiced by Jack Mercer) vs. Bluto (voiced by Pinto Colvig) in this 1940 cartoon send up of Paramount’s own epic movie Union Pacific 1939. In this black and white animation, it’s a race side by side on double track to win the state franchise (presumably to operate the railroad). Two steam engines (Bluto runs a 6-4-0, Popeye a 4-2-0) have to contend with choke points like a single track bridge and single track tunnel.

Being a cartoon allows many over-the-top gags and mishaps you simply could not do with real actors. Compared to a Warner Brothers Looney Tunes, the animation is not that great, but it’s fast with lots of action. I was able to review this picture from my Popeye The Sailor 1938-1940 DVD.

Now sit back and enjoy this train-laden feature from the early days of animation!

This sequence gets reused quite a bit as for much of the race, the two combatants are side by side, constantly trading the lead with each other. Notice animators left off one set of pilot wheels on Bluto’s locomotive making it a 4-4-0.

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