Duel in the Sun 1946

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The Selznick Studio

The star-studded movie, Duel in the Sun, was David O. Selznick’s attempt to re-capture his Gone With The Wind success. Of more interest to rail buffs, Duel featured three separate train scenes using two different steam engines and their accompanying rolling stock.

Train filming locations were near Tucson, Arizona and Cooperstown, California on the Sierra Railroad. Paramount’s Virginia & Truckee #22 (The Inyo) was trucked to Arizona for filming and redecorated as the Texas and South Western Railroad #3. Also getting the T&SW RR treatment was Sierra’s 2-8-0, #18.

Let’s just wade through 138 minutes of this Texas-sized oater and check out the train bits. Yee-ha!

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Gregory Peck (as Lewt McCanles) poses with Sierra Railroad #18 before the derailment scene. This picture courtesy of Larry Jensen’s excellent book, The Movie Railroads (1981) page 27.

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Girl Shy 1924

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A Pathe Picture

Whilst digging through my Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (see my previous review of Now or Never 1921), I found another train-related silent in 1924’s Girl Shy. Not only is a steam train journey involved, but a key piece of Lloyd’s final chase scene involves a Pacific Electric streetcar madly wheeling through the streets of Hollywood, California.

Many thanks to John Bengtson and his superb Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations blog.

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Harold Lloyd climbs up PE streetcar #234 to put the trolley pole back on the wire. Hilarity ensues.

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The Good Guys and the Bad Guys 1969

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Warner Brothers

The Good Guys and the Bad Guys!  Leave it to Warners to come up with a star-studded, Comedy-Western featuring gorgeous New Mexico scenery along the D&RGW narrow gauge!

Two aging, washed up characters – one a lawman (Robert Mitchum as Marshal Flagg) and the other a former outlaw (George Kennedy as John McKay) – try to deal with the changing times in the early 20th century.

Of more interest to us is the real star of the show: Denver & Rio Grande Western #483, a narrow gauge K-36 class 2-8-2 built by Baldwin in 1925. D&RGW #483 was filmed as #550 or #577 for the movie. D&RGW #483 is still around – stored unserviceable in the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad yard in Chama, NM.

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Broadside shot of 577 at speed. The studio painted her up with nice touches like gold cylinders, bell, and other appliances, red cowcatcher and drivers with brown/copper cab, steam domes and smokestack.

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The Lone Wolf Takes A Chance 1941

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Columbia Pictures

Yet another case of sleeplessness (maybe I should mention this to my doctor), led me to discover The Lone Wolf Takes A Chance (1941) in the wee, small hours of the morning. This film is the 5th in a series of nine “Lone Wolf” movies that starred Warren William as retired jewel thief Michael Lanyard. Now reformed, Lanyard devotes himself to helping private citizens solve crimes. The police still don’t quite trust him.

Most of the train scenes happen at night (it’s kind of hard to see or get decent screen captures), so apologies for that.

Despite the murkiness, there is quite a bit of train action featuring two Southern Pacific steam locomotives #2445 and #2447, both Class P-5 4-6-2 Pacifics built by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1912. The movie itself is very entertaining. What say we check it out?

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SP 2447 enters “Coasterville” (hastily renamed SP station) where the cops are waiting to arrest our hero, Lanyard.

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Last Train From Gun Hill 1959

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Paramount Pictures

Kirk Douglas (as Marshal Matt Morgan) and Anthony Quinn (as Craig Belden) star in this very well done western drama about a lawman seeking justice for his murdered wife.

Of course, the REAL star of the show is Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22, “The Inyo” back in the days when it was owned by Paramount. Indeed, most of its scenes in Last Train From Gun Hill are filmed on the Paramount back lot on a short stretch of track and in “town” on a movie set.

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V&T #22 lets off a little steam as it prepares to leave Gun Hill. Built in 1875, the Inyo is still around and occasionally trotted out to operate at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City.

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Eccentric Engineer 1976

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Universal Television / NBC

The Adventure of the Eccentric Engineer was an episode during NBC’s one season of the Ellery Queen television show from 1975-1976. Making a cameo (he gets bumped off right away) is Ed McMahon as Lamont Franklin. Here he watches his model trains operate dressed up as an old time steam locomotive engineer.

The rub is that Lamont/Eddie McMahon (as my wife calls him — long story) quit his job at his own successful company to “go play with trains at home”. Everyone thinks he’s gone nuts. But not so fast! Why would someone bump this guy off? What’s so important in that train room? Let’s come along and find out!

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Ellery Queen (played by Jim Hutton) breaks the fourth wall and challenges the viewer to guess who did the murder. In the background is the magnificent O gauge layout built (I’m guessing) just for this episode.

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Breakheart Pass 1976

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Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Great Western Railway #75 stars in this mid-1970’s thriller filmed along the spectacular Camas Prairie Railroad in Idaho. With the story taking place in Utah, GWR #75 and equipment are painted up for the fictitious Wasatch & Nevada Railroad. The little 2-8-0 gets a fake cabbage stack and subdued paint scheme (they even paint the drivers mineral red).

Featuring a rather high body count (by my estimation, approximately 84 including two carloads and caboose full of soldiers), Breakheart is definitely not a family movie. BUT…all the essentials are here for a classic obscure train movie. A runaway train. Big fight atop train. Indian attack. A little cheesecake (provided by Jill Ireland). Aaaand an exploding baggage car. Let’s check out this mess of a storyline and just enjoy the railroad and scenery!

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Throw Papa from the train! A stunt double dummy gets the heave-ho as W&N #9 crosses a tall trestle.

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