Cinerama Productions Corp.
The California Zephyr (CZ) comes to the big screen! The second Cinerama movie ever filmed, featured two married couples, the Marsh’s from the U.S. and the Troller’s from Switzerland, who “traded continents” to take a Cinerama Holiday.
For the purposes of this review, I will concentrate on the “San Francisco Bay” segment of the movie which follows the Troller’s, (Fred and Beatrice), from The City By The Bay eastward aboard the California Zephyr.
For some reason, the movie titles are in B&W – once the feature starts, it’s all glorious Technicolor.
Surprise! Also featured in the San Francisco segment is a tour of the city’s fabled cable car railway. Here we see a car being turned at the intersection of Powell and Market.
For comparison, here is a June 2017 Google Maps view of the same location:
Our segment begins with a whimsical “artist’s conception” of San Francisco; Another view of a cable car being turned at Powell & Market.
The cameras follow a cable car on the Powell line; The operator holds the cable brake and rings the gong as another cable car flashes past.
Great montage of riding a Vista-Dome car on the CZ. I like how a few passengers manage to stick their heads and cameras outside the dome glass. Another nice touch is the bear (or is it a cougar?) striking a pose. Show-off…
For context, I include a couple B&W pictures and text from the booklet which accompanied my DVD:
Three months of preparation were required for the California Zephyr sequence. A Vista-Dome railroad car was removed from service and modified to accommodate the Cinerama camera. The tinted Plexiglas used in the dome was replaced with clear glass to allow color photography. Special platforms were added to enable the camera to work inside and outside of the train. A special train schedule was fixed six weeks prior to the start of production; the entire system of three railroads was coordinated with that of the scheduled trains. The Cinerama trucks were routed separately to meet the train each evening.
Note: Western Pacific Railroad #804-A is an EMD FP7 built in January 1950, wrecked in May 1972, then traded in on a new GE freight locomotive.
The vastness of the American continent is seen from the Vista-Dome of a California Zephyr, speeding eastward over the Western Pacific Railroad (WP), up the Glenwood Canyon of the Colorado River on the Denver and Rio Grande Western (D&RGW), and on into Chicago on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q).
Note: Yes, that is Beatrice and Fred Troller riding in the dome seats.
Our opening sequence is a Vista-Dome view of two California Zephyrs meeting in Feather River Canyon. The oncoming locomotive is WP #803-A, an EMD F3A built in June 1947 and traded back into EMD for another locomotive in 1971. I love the big feather wrapped around the front of the engine!
Coming and going views from inside the dome car.
They even hung a camera outside the train for a trackside view. Is that a dusting of snow up on those hills?
Filmmakers also cut a window in the locomotive’s nose door for a view out the front. Here the CZ is rolling through a truss bridge, under a “snow shed” passing a stream over the tracks and finally a bit of run-off splashing down right next to the tracks!
I know where this spot is. This is Pulga, California where the Western Pacific Railroad and California Highway #70 cross, both on spectacular spans over the Feather River.
A couple more views inside the Vista-Dome. The first shot appears to be crossing a trestle and heading up the Feather River with CA Highway 70 alongside; Second picture is the CZ making its way up a rocky canyon (in Colorado on the D&RGW perhaps?).
Engineer operating the locomotive up front as Fred and Beatrice are seated by the Dining Car Steward.
One more nose camera shot as the train passes some CB&Q stock cars and “The Texas Company”.
Our final view of the Troller’s CZ journey is in the Vista-Dome as the train is being washed (Denver, maybe?). Note in the second picture, you can clearly see the forward windows in clear glass (for better filming) with tinted green Plexiglas on the rear windows.
Frank Brehm’s outstanding wplives.com website has a tremendous amount of information on the California Zephyr portion of Cinerama Holiday. It was his web page that inspired me to purchase the DVD and review Cinerama Holiday.
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Cinerama Holiday:
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