Tag Archives: Warner Brothers

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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Finders Keepers 1984

CBS Theatrical Films / Warner Brothers

This movie was originally brought to my attention courtesy of Erik Stenberg (September 2019 email). It’s as obscure as a train movie can get, filmed out in the wilds of Alberta and British Columbia. Canadian locations meant we are treated to a wonderful Budd-built pocket streamliner of ex-Canadian Pacific cars pulled by a couple former-Canadian National, GMD FP9A diesels. All this glorious passenger equipment courtesy of VIA Rail Canada, who also whomped up a garish “AMrail” paint scheme for the F’s.

The plot and storyline are preposterous, but we’re not here to critique that. Similar to Silver Streak 1976, it’s “Let’s pretend Canada is the U.S., cause it’s cheaper to film up there”.

My apologies for the really fuzzy screen captures — taken off a YouTube video, dontcha know. Enjoy!

Our movie train of 7 cars (including two domes) soars high above Old Man River in Lethbridge, Alberta. For comparison, I include this modern day image from Google of a CP freight train.

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The Music Man 1962

Warner Brothers

One of my favorite musicals from the days of yore featured a short, but eclectic train scene immediately after the opening credits. In the studio, filmmakers utilized a cutaway side view of an old time railroad coach (the movie takes place in 1912). Along with regular conversation, the song, “Rock Island” is performed by the traveling salesmen. This implies a ride on the Rock Island Railroad or a visit to Rock Island, Illinois, neither of which actually happens.

In addition, we are treated to small snippets of Oahu Railway & Land Company locomotive #85 (seen below) which is presumed to be the motive power for the train. During filming, OR&LC #85 was located at Travel Town in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.

Let’s take a trip from Brighton, Illinois to River City, Iowa by train and meet Professor Harold Hill! (played by Robert Preston).

This must have been one of the last pictures taken of OR&LC #85 under steam as it dropped its fires for good in 1961. Check out that funky running gear on the 4-6-0! This is what is known as an “outside frame” steam locomotive. Other examples of outside frame engines can be found on the former Rio Grande narrow gauge lines in Colorado.

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The Polar Express 2004

Warner Brothers

Ah, Polar Express.  A 21st Century classic Yuletide movie and the fund-raising savior of tourist railroads everywhere.  The soft-focus animated film featuring a magic train and steam locomotive on its way to the North Pole, Christmas Eve.

And WHAT a locomotive! Can you get any more Christmassy than Pere Marquette #1225, a “Superpower” 2-8-4 Berkshire built in October 1941 by the Lima Locomotive Works? Filmmakers used actual blueprints of this steam engine to assist animators along with recorded sounds made by PM #1225.

Hey, Christmas (12-25-2020) is coming up soon, so climb aboard with a bunch of other lucky kids and ride with conductor Tom Hanks to (maybe) see Santa away up North. All Abooooooard!!

How would you like to see this pull up your street? I love the rounded-end heavyweight observation car with Mars light and P.E. drumhead. Better hold onto that golden round-trip ticket real tight, son…

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Superman 1978

Warner Brothers

“More powerful than a locomotive!” I remember watching Superman in the theatre when it first came out. Great, fun film and quite a few train scenes to boot. It was a pleasure to get a copy on DVD then go back and research all the locomotive and train sets seen.

The movie would feature a GMD FP7, an EMD FL9 and 3 EMD SPD40F locomotives as well as a studio mockup of villain Lex Luthor’s (played by Gene Hackman) underground lair — done up as a flooded section of Grand Central Terminal in New York! It’s the late 1970’s, so there is plenty of pre-Superliner, “heritage” equipment to be seen.

Let’s take a trip on the Canadian Pacific, the New Haven and Santa Fe railroads, shall we? All Aboard!

The Kansas Star hurtles past the camera under a magnificent sky. This FP7-led passenger train would soon encounter a young Clark Kent racing alongside.

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Other Men’s Women 1931

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Warner Brothers

Southern Pacific Lines and their subsidiary San Diego & Arizona (SD&A) gave movie-makers carte blanche in filming this railroad-themed motion picture. The star of the show is a chunky little 2-8-0 SD&A #103, a C-8 class steam locomotive (Baldwin 1904). There’s a host of other Espee steam power seen in passing to keep things interesting.

Lots of action (this being a Warner’s picture) including crewmen on the car tops, bailing off and on moving trains, a couple fist fights in the cab and an actual side-swipe wreck of two trains. Future big stars, James Cagney and Joan Blondell make brief appearances in minor roles.

So let’s climb aboard and see Southern Pacific Railroad in all its glory as it rolls through Southern California in the early 1930’s. Highball!

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SD&A #103 trundles through the night with a long string of Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator cars bearing both Southern Pacific and Union Pacific markings.

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The Long Summer of George Adams 1982

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Warner Brothers

This made-for-TV movie stars TWO steam locomotives. The first is Texas State Railroad [TSR] #400, a Baldwin 2-8-2 built in 1917. The second is an Alco RS2 diesel locomotive #7 built circa 1947. (Alco diesels were always referred to as “honorary steam engines” by railfans, due to the copious amounts of black smoke belched skyward upon starting.)

#7 started life working for the Point Comfort & Northern Railroad in Texas, coming to TSR in 1975. Since this movie was filmed, the #7 has been repainted into a beautiful Southern Pacific “Black Widow” scheme.

James Garner (Yes, Mister Rockford Files) is the lead character in our motion picture and the film is the story of a mid-20th century railroad worker about to lose his job due to diesels replacing steam.

Many thanks to good friend Scott Tanner who slipped me a DVD of this flick for inclusion on this blog. And now, let’s see Rockford and the boys playing with their trains!

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It appears to be early spring as TSR #400 and train roll through East Texas.

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