“Filmed in Technirama” (c)
James Stewart stars in this sprawling, earth-toned Western. In yet another “building the railroad” picture of the 1950’s, Stewart gets to show off his accordian-playing skills (he really could play), although it was later re-dubbed by someone else. This was one of the many reasons Jimmy Stewart hated this picture.
Lots of great steam train action in this movie, some of which was filmed in the town of Silverton, Colorado (named Junction City) on the Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge. WW2 hero, Audie Murphy plays Stewart’s brother-gone-bad (despite being over a foot shorter than Jimmy). Dan Duryea plays (what else?) the semi-psychotic villian with his usual eeee-vil panache.
Enough about this motley cast. Let’s check out the cool train stuff!
D&RGW’s #476, a K-28 class, narrow gauge 2-8-2, leads a mixed train along the Animas River.
Grant (Jimmy Stewart) canters by tracklayers in an opening scene.
With D&RGW #476 in the background, Grant marches over to private car, #306 and hops aboard.
The inside of car 306 is pretty posh as well. That’s Beaver’s Dad on the far left! (Hugh Beaumont)
Note: In many scenes when the steam engines would whistle, it would echo back from the surrounding hills for a very pleasing effect.
Little Joey (Brandon de Wilde) winds up as Grant’s sidekick. Here they prepare to leave town on a work train flatcar to end-of-track.
Nice shot of the Silverton (Junction City) depot and the train leaving town in low light.
Joey talks it over with Grant (playing his accordian) as the train rolls thru the spectacular scenery.
Grant decides to trade his flatcar for a coach and entertains the passengers with a few tunes; Black coal smoke blasting amongst the Colorado peaks.
From the cab – stoking the coal into the boiler; Uh-oh, the bad guys are after the train!
The Utica Kid (Audie Murphy) watches the train as robbers chase after the caboose; The Utica Kid (a.k.a. Lee) leaps onto the train from above (or at least his stunt double does….).
Meanwhile, the gang has managed to pull the water tower down neatly onto the tracks…without spilling a drop!
Shortly thereafter, D&RGW 476 comes along and just plows right through the blockage in a spectacular display of smoke, steam and splintered balsa wood. The train continues on as if nothing has happened.
BUT WAIT! The Utica Kid is on board and gotten the drop on the engine crew. STICK ‘EM UP!
As the train slows, the rest of the gang catches up and boards. Grant is caught in mid-squeeze of his instrument….
Gosh, Lee doesn’t looks so short up there; The gang holds up a coach painted in D&RGW’s famous “Grande Gold”.
“How’s my breath? HUUUUHHHHH….”. Head Bad Guy Whitey Harbin (Dan Duryea) trifles with the boss’ wife, Verna (Elaine Stewart); With Harbin looking on approvingly, Verna poses for a Playtex, Cross Your Heart commercial.
LOTS of plot and shootouts and abandoned mine cable cars left off HERE.
I wont give away the plot of the thing, but of COURSE Grant winds up with the nice girl of the picture, Charlie (Dianne Foster) as the trains and final credits roll on.
You can’t go wrong with the Durango and Silverton Railroad as a backdrop for your movie. Night Passage gets four stars for a high train quotient and absolutely stunning scenery. Check it out!
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Night Passage:
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