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.
Columbia Broadcasting System
Okay, the above has got nothing to do with today’s review, but I always liked that song.
Jim West (played by Robert Conrad) and Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin) star in this post-Civil War spy caper in the American West. Their preferred method of transportation is their own private car “Wanderer 1” towed by (natch!) a steam locomotive.
Although I’m reviewing a black and white episode from the first season, I will supplement with color views of “The Night of the Vicious Valentine” from season 2.
Motive power for the train was provided by venerable Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22, “The Inyo”. This is from the days when she was owned by Paramount Studios. All exterior train shots were filmed around Menifee, California.
Compare B&W and color poses of Inyo, a baggage car and Wanderer as they pause for Jim and Artemus to leap into action!
This film, a classic though it is, was a bit of a disappointment in the train department as we only get brief scenes at the beginning and end of the picture. Our star is the former Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22 “Inyo”, an 1875 product of Baldwin Locomotive Works — at the time owned by Paramount Studios themselves.
The story is told mainly in flashback with the railroad representing progress and civilization brought to a small, lawless Western town. In addition to studio scenes of the Inyo, there is what appear to be stock footage of a train on the Sierra Railroad.
Let’s take a closer look at the three, distinct scenes in “Liberty Valance” of a steam engine-powered passenger train.
As the movie comes to an end, we see a mixed train (steam locomotive, flat car, two dark-colored coaches, one light-colored coach and caboose) rounding a curve away from the camera.
This is most likely a scene along the Sierra Railroad with possibly the #3 locomotive on the point.