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!!”
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.
The Amroad conductor does his best, “All Aboard” as the train prepares to leave “Los Angeles”. Note the Canadian National passenger cars on the next track; Ned Beatty (Sweet) and Gene Wilder (George) study an Amroad system map etched into the glass of the dining car — a nice touch by the filmmakers.
Jill Clayburgh (Hilly) and George have…quite a few drinks in the dining car.
I include the above picture because it just screams, “1970’s Diet!”. How about a bottle of “Tab”, plain hamburger patty, cottage cheese and tomato slices for din-din?; A nice view of a Canadian Pacific diner – Hilly and George have stayed so long, the place is just about closed down.
Comes the dawn, a crane shot reveals George in the CP sleeper, “Elgin Manor”. Shortly thereafter, George is tossed off the train (a running gag) by henchman Reace (played by Richard Kiel).
Much plot left off HERE
Long story short, George hitches a ride in a woman’s biplane (she keeps calling him Steve) and reboards the Silver Streak — through the rear door of the dome observation car!
There’s snow in the mountains in these coming and going shots of the entire consist. Thanks to TrainOrders.com, I was able to determine the actual equipment used in the film:
First car – #613 baggage/crew dormitory
Second car – “Burton Manor” Sleeper
Third car – “Elgin Manor” Sleeper
Fourth car – #118 Coach
Fifth car – “Wascana” Dining car
Sixth car – “Drummond Manor” Sleeper
Seventh car – #108 Coach
Eighth car – “Kokanee Park” Dome observation car
All of the passenger equipment was fluted stainless steel built in the Budd Company Red Lion plant in Philadelphia, PA (1955).
Okay, back to the movie. Next thing you know, Sweet and George are climbing on top of the Silver Streak. Nice, partially frozen river on the right.
Uh-oh. Reace is after George! George finds a spear gun in the baggage car (don’t ask) and dispatches Reace over the side.
Too late, George encounters a signal bridge which knocks him off the train again. I didn’t know railroad signals pivoted like that. This scene was apparently used in the opening credits of The Fall Guy.
A great deal of plot left off HERE — including probably the funniest scene in the entire movie with Richard Pryor (Grover) and George in a Toronto Union Station bathroom.
George getting past the cops and back onboard Silver Streak; What’s this? Richard Pryor serving coffee to the eeee-vil mastermind Devereau (played by Patrick McGoohan) with George and Hilly held prisoner.
For the third time, “circumstances dictate” Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor (or at least their stunt doubles) make a spectacular leap from the Silver Streak into a shallow creek.
Much more plot left off HERE
Minus his henchmen, Devereau is now up in the cab taking pot shots at the pursing police helicopters; Silver Streak roars over a hefty overhead truss bridge.
Eventually Devereau is dispatched by this spiffy little CP #8100 (a GMD SW1200 switcher with Flexicoil trucks, ho-HO!); Hey look, it’s Michelle’s Dad (Fred Willard) in the “Chicago” switch tower (note the BN switcher schleping Amtrak rolling stock in the background).
Two things that always bugged me when I first saw the movie: #1: Why is he reaching for the cut lever from the opposite car (further away?) and #2: Whenever air hoses part on a train, BOTH sections will stop — go into emergency.
I know. We’d have no spectacular ending then. OK, back to the picture….
Here’s comes the Silver Streak. Right on time! (1:35pm); Mirror, mirror on the wall; the rear section coasts slowly into Chicago (note the CN baggage car a couple tracks over); George and Hilly survey the wreckage.
What a finish! Probably the most enjoyable train movie out of the 1970’s. Buy, rent or stream this puppy and enjoy a great evening’s entertainment. Richard Pryor steals every scene he’s in. Pay the man. What? PAY the man!
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Silver Streak:
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