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.
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.
The opening credits feature helicopter shots of “Grand Mountain RR Line #550” and train rolling through the spectacular scenery along the Colorado/New Mexico border.
Two wagon loads of the town’s dance hall girls are being shipped out — by stock car! (The mayor of “Progress, New Mexico” is running for re-election). Note the D&RGW lettering above number 5579 has been carefully painted out.
Marshal Flagg (Mitchum) poses beside GMR #550; Closeup view of the gold Hollywood touches to bell, whistle and piping. The aspens are in their full fall glory.
Note #550 has black drivers and cowcatcher – perhaps to differentiate it from the 577; The hooker, er, dance hall girl in car 5579 tosses her garter to Flagg. There was lots of garter tossing in these early scenes. Maybe that was considered “naughty” in 1969.
A tremendous amount of plot and non-railroad scenes left off HERE…..
GMR #577 crosses Lobato Trestle, just outside Chama, NM; good view of the fireman in cab of 577.
Flagg and McKay have teamed up to foil the train-robbing plans of McKay’s former gang. Here we see them boarding coach 337 as the train rolls along.
Next we see them (or their stunt doubles anyway) climb to the roof of car 377 and make a thrilling leap onto car 334.
Detail shot of #557 smokebox; Flagg and McKay shoot it out on top of the train as it nears a tunnel.
An early-day motorist has stalled on the tracks! Movie buffs may recognize the car as the Leslie Special from The Great Race, repainted in red; STOP!; Pow! GMR #577 bisects the horseless carriage.
McKay “pulls the pin” between the baggage car and the rest of the train (including the town’s new fire engine) with the train robbers in pursuit; two coach loads of glum passengers stranded in the weeds.
You KNEW there was going to be dynamite at some point, right?; With a terrifically-cheesy grin, McKay prepares to heave a stick at the pursing outlaws; Ka-BOOM!; The 577 continues to roll along with the bad guys coming alongside.
But wait! The bridge is out! Soon the engineer, McKay, then Flagg all “join the birds” and bail off the speeding locomotive.
Filmed with miniatures, GMR 577 and baggage car 126 plunge through the bridge into the gorge below.
Tumbling down the mountainside go the models…
Soon the bad guys are looting the gold (GOLD!!!) from the train; Big shoot out!; I include this guy (John Davis Chandler as the henchman Deuce) simply for his absolutely marvelous sneer; And the credits roll.
This picture was a lot of fun from start to finish. Apart from the killer train scenes, the film is loaded with cameos of famous character actors like Tina Louise, Buddy Hackett, Kathleen Freeman, Martin Balsam, David Carradine, Marie Windsor, etc. Even the actual governor of New Mexico at the time, David Cargo makes an appearance as a reporter. Lots of action, a preposterous story line, and narrow gauge steam trains. What’s not to like? LIN-Z says check it out!
Here’s what IMDb has to say about The Good Guys and the Bad Guys:
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