Silver Streak 1976

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20th Century Fox

What could be finer than a movie featuring classic GMD cab units pulling a matched set of Budd-built streamlined passenger equipment? When Amtrak balked at having its equipment used for a murder/mystery, Canada stepped in to offer a mini CP Rail Canadian consist.

Most station scenes were filmed in Toronto’s Union Station with Western exteriors taken along CP Rail’s secondary line between Lethbridge, Alberta and the Crowsnest Pass. Filmmaker’s attention to detail was good on the interiors right down to the “Amroad” and “Silver Streak” branding on such mundane items as napkins, menus, maps and timetables.

Let’s take a closer look at this obscure (it’s been over 42 years) train movie from the polyester 1970’s. “C’mon, Steve!!”

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The Silver Streak climbs upgrade in the mountains; The train’s engineer talks on the radio in the cab of CP # 4070, a GMD FP7A.

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The Block Signal 1926

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Gotham Productions

A young Jean Arthur stars as the love interest in this silent picture filmed along the Santa Fe Railway in Southern California.

Grace Ryan (Arthur) finds herself with two suitors – the cad Bert Steele and college boy Jack Milford.

Of more interest to us is the diverse mix of steam locomotives flashing across the screen. There’s lots of action with trains running wild, fights atop the locomotive and plenty of smoke-belching runbys. Let’s get rolling on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe!

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AT&SF # 3530 (a 3500 class 4-6-2 Baldwin) has had the “Atchison” and “Fe” letters neatly blacked out — thus it is the T & S Railway for this picture.

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Strangers on a Train 1951

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Warner Brothers

Not as famous a train movie as Hitchcock’s magnificent, North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train still manages a respectable amount of railroad action and decor in its 101 minutes.

Robert Walker steals the show with his wonderfully-creepy portrayal of Bruno Anthony, the off-his-rocker rich kid. Farley Granger plays Bruno’s foil, Guy Haines, the tennis star who can’t quite believe what is happening to him.

Trains are an integral part of the film, not only at the fateful first meeting, but as a bridge between scenes. Quoting from Imdb Trivia, “The train station scenes in Metcalf were filmed at the former New Haven Railroad station, Danbury, Connecticut, which is today the home of the Danbury Railroad Museum“.

Let’s ride to danger on the New Haven with Guy and Bruno!

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It’s probably just a set, but wow, what a lounge car! Chrome and glass and spot lighting highlight the first encounter of Guy and Bruno riding the train.

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Out of Scale 1951

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Walt Disney Productions
RKO Radio Pictures

It’s Chip and Dale versus Donald Duck in this cartoon short from the 1950’s. In the grand tradition of Walt Disney and Ward Kimball, Monsieur Duck has constructed a magnificent miniature railway empire in his backyard.

D. Duck is what is known in the model railroad community as a “rivet-counter”. Everything must be to scale (in proportion) to his layout: buildings, trees, even the tiny shovel he uses to scoop coal into the firebox.

There’s trouble when Señor Duck bumps into an enormous, chipmunk-bearing tree he has managed to overlook. Let’s see Donald working on the railroad!

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Sir Duck has quite the set up in his fenced-in back forty. Note the snow-capped mountains, bridges, roads and a minutely-detailed town.

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The Professionals 1966

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Columbia Pictures

This star-studded Western featured the graceful lines of Great Western Railway #75, a Baldwin-built 2-8-0, previously seen in my review of Breakhart Pass 1976.

GWR #75 has a dual role, also appearing as N de M engine #903 in the movie. All railroad scenes were filmed east of Indio, California along the iron-ore-hauling Eagle Mountain Railroad.

To sum up, a wealthy Texas millionaire, J.W. Grant (played by Ralph Bellamy), hires four men to rescue his wife, kidnapped by a Mexican revolutionary. The four “professionals” eventually track down the head bandito Jesus Raza (Jack Palance) at his hideout, but things are not all as they seem.

Come along and enjoy the train scenes with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the mid-1960’s.

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Lee Marvin blasts away from the cab (fireman’s side) of N de M #903. The recoil on that weapon must have been tremendous.

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Porky’s Railroad 1937

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Warner Brothers

This cartoon short came from the talented animators at “Termite Terrace” on the Warner Brothers lot back in the 1930s. My reviewed version came from Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume 4, Disk 2.

Porky Pig (voiced here by artist extraordinaire Mel Blanc) is the engineer of an outdated, ready for the scrap heap 2-2-2 steam locomotive named “Toots”.  His nemesis becomes the sparkling new “Silver Fish” (a reference to Burlington’s Pioneer Zephyr). Porky winds up getting challenged to a race with the much faster streamliner.

As seen in the above screen capture, this cartoon was colorized in 1968 (but they did rather a sloppy job of it). Still, the original B&W version is nice and crisp, so let’s take a look at a railroad parody from the golden age of cartooning.

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The determined engineer urges his coal-burning locomotive on, in pursuit of the front-running Silver Fish.

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The Railway Children 1970

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EMI Film Productions Limited

I had a heck of a time finding a DVD of this classic tale from jolly old England. The obscure part is, I somehow never saw this movie when it came out, even though we were living in British Columbia at the time. After my first viewing for this review, I can say it was very well done. Good story, quirky supporting actors and a fairly steady parade of steam engines towing an eclectic assortment of old wooden rolling stock.

The train bits were filmed in the Yorkshire region of Great Britain along the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Happily, all of the locomotives and rolling stock shown in this movie have been preserved.

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The three children stand beside Oakworth station to watch an express train led by GNR Class N2 # 4744, roar through without stopping.

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