Twisted Rails 1934

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Imperial Productions

Filmmakers in the early days of Hollywood, found nearby railroads the perfect tableau for exciting movies.  Trains provided hefty size, motion, smoke and steam, action, and an inevitable excuse to use dynamite! 1934’s Twisted Rails follows the same pattern as my previously-reviewed movies such as Dynamite Denny and Red Signals.  In this case, “The Wrecker” is causing havoc out on the Santa Fe Railway.

Let’s play along and see what action! thrills! excitement! turn up in this early talkie along the high iron.


One of the chase scenes occurs at the Santa Fe roundhouse in Redondo Junction (Los Angeles). Here we see a couple of 3700 class 4-8-2 Mountain types built by Baldwin between 1918 and 1924.

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What better way to start off, than blowing up the model bridge just as a train is crossing. A Henchman gives the plunger a good push and the viaduct is rubble!

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The Division Superintendent is not pleased. A flurry of telegrams puts the heat on the local brass to do something!

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Here we get a quick view of the old (pre-1939) La Grande Station. Two mugs chat with Santa Fe #3706 simmering in the background.

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Our heroine Mary McGuire (played by Alice Dahl) chats up a couple fedora-covered gents as this picture’s eye candy; Uh-oh. The Wrecker is onto hero Jim Conway (played by Jack Donovan) and offers some free medical advice. Wise guy….

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OK, enough plot. Here’s a couple great scenes down at the roundhouse. First is another 3700 class locomotive getting a steam cleaning and rub down. Second, we get a glimpse of the turntable. The ATSF logo on the side reads, “Try The Safety Way”.

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The roundhouse chase begins. Here we see some yardmen with a very-Santa Fe-looking steam engine in the background; Another big 3700 class locomotive in the roundhouse.

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So much for trying the safety way. The roundhouse forces think they’ve got The Wrecker cornered as they race back and forth on the “whisker tracks”.

Numbers visible are 570 (566 class 0-8-0 Baldwin), 1346 (1337 class 4-6-2 Baldwin), 3740, 3748, 3704, 3707, 3521 (3500 class 4-6-2 Baldwin), 3703, 3738 and 3743. All are 3700 class 4-8-2 Baldwins unless otherwise indicated.

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I love this gent with the walking stick, white gloves and spats, as he marches alongside ATSF boxcar 115295;  Just a random shot thrown in of a train passing through an interlocking with a tower alongside.

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Climbing up the side of an Erie Railroad and Burlington Route boxcars.

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Leaping into action! The good guys chase and fight the bad guys on top of a moving train!

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Curses! The villain has been handcuffed to a boxcar’s rooftop brake wheel. Unfortunately, he gets loose and hoists the plucky Mary atop the car.

Much plot left off here.

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No more railroad scenes, but here we find the kidnapped Mary tied to a chair as henchmen haul in the loot — conveniently labeled with it’s contents and current value.

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It’s a trap! As the ringleader (Mister The Wrecker to you) opens a box, an alarm goes off (wow, that’s a large gong….).

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Big fight. The police have surrounded the hideout upon hearing the noise of the gong and soon round up the gang. My hero!

As 1930’s pictures go, this one isn’t too bad. I particularly liked the spectacular stunts atop the moving train – with all combatants involved managing to keep their hats on. Although many Santa Fe steam engines were preserved, none of the 3700 class 4-8-2’s escaped the scrappers torch.

If you’d like to watch Twisted Rails, you can find it here on YouTube:


Here’s what IMDb has to say about Twisted Rails:

If you have ANY information about this movie, please contact me at:


About Lindsay Korst

Webmaster, Blogmaster, Ferroequinologist - Lindsay Korst works for a nationwide home improvement center after a 20+ year career supporting computer users. A resident of the Seattle area since 1976, he has had a life-long interest in railroads, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest. He is an enthusiastic participant in the Great Northern Railway Historical Society. He and his wife reside in Redmond, Washington.
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