Cinema General Studios
Hogan’s Heroes! One of my favorite TV shows as a kid growing up. I’m so old, I can remember watching some of them when they were first broadcast. I own the entire series (six seasons) on DVD — which I use for a night light. Pop a 30 minute episode in the DVD player and bonk, I’m fast asleep. But I digress.
This particular show from the sixth season was the story of Colonel Hogan (played by Bob Crane) and his gang’s attempt to rescue the beautiful resistance leader, code named Tiger, from the clutches of the eeeee-vil Gestapo, who are taking her to Berlin by train.
Most of the episode is a wonderful mish-mosh of wildly different railroad equipment, old railroad films and even a classic blow-up-the-train ending using models.
Some of the images are pretty dark (the action conveniently took place at night allowing filmmakers to use marginal railroad footage), so apologizes in advance. Enjoy!
A beautiful Southern Pacific Railroad GS-class 4-8-4 leads a heavyweight passenger train. I can’t quite read the train number, but the engine is similar to the famous SP 4449. ROWF! Arlene Martel stars as “Tiger” looking absolutely fabulous with the torn and soiled sweater. Now you know why Hogan was so keen on this rescue.
Nine minutes or so into the show, we get our first train visual. Train indicator boards on the steam locomotive display this as SP Train #5, the New Orleans to Los Angeles “Argonaut”, according to my August 1955 Official Guide.
Solders stand guard in the very European-looking corridor. Tiger is flanked by two Gestapo men. The bespectacled chap on the right is one of my favorite bad-ass actors from Hogans, Frank Marth (as Captain Steiger), who excelled at playing the heavy.
Now sporting a different locomotive and consist, Hogan and Karl (played by Dick Wilson) fiddle with the signal system as Tiger’s train rumbles through the night. Dick Wilson later went on to fame and fortune as Mr. Whipple in all those Charmin toilet paper commercials!
As Baker (played by Kenneth Washington) and Hogan look on, Mister Whipple…er…Karl switches the funky-looking lower quadrant semaphore from green to red.
Yet another locomotive is shown which slides its drivers to stop for the signal.
Carter clumsily convinces Steiger that the track ahead is blocked and that they should stay over at nearby Stalag 13 in the meantime. Yeah, by season six, the story lines had become pretty preposterous.
Nice studio mockup of an observation car. The pretty amber and green lanterns are pure set dressing as a railroad would only display RED to the rear for following trains.
Interlude from train stuff. Here we are back at Stalag 13 as Hogan is making out with Tiger in the cooler. I think it was in Bob Crane’s contract or something, that he got to smooch with a female co-star at least once in every episode.
OK, back to the ferroequinology. Steiger and Tiger reboard the train with Hogan and Newkirk joining the guards in the next compartment.
The train’s locomotive is now shown to be SP #4446, a GS-4 4-8-4 built by Lima in 1941 — a sister engine to SP 4449 previously mentioned. As the train starts off, Hogan and Newkirk get the drop on the guards.
Meanwhile, Tiger’s captors are enjoying a brewski next door. Prost! Another view of a Golden State class SP locomotive and train. This is our FIFTH engine change of the episode.
Much to Tiger’s delight, Newkirk and Hogan burst into the compartment, planting a time bomb. Tiger climbs out the window along with her rescuers, so as not to alert the hallway guards.
With an impressive fireball, the model train is blown to bits. This particular scene was used countless times whenever a script/episode called for the heroes to be blowing up a train.
As the saboteurs watch from a safe distance, Hogan and Tiger once more play kissy-face as the credits roll.
Epilogue: If you are a Hogan’s fan like me, you may want to visit this website with some previously-unknown-to-me tidbits about the series. It’s quite interesting:
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Operation Tiger:
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