Railroading reference pops up in an unexpected place: 1953 movie 'The Bandwagon'

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Tuesday, February 07, 2017

I look for the intersection of railroad culture and general life everywhere I can find it. I love the nuts and bolts of our interest as much as anyone — are those 2-inch diameter tubes in that bundle? Bolted or cast pedestal trucks? Did that model have a 567 or a 645 motor? But I also love to see railroading references pop up in entertainment, news, sports — heck, anywhere. That’s one reason why the April issue, the edition that we’re finishing this week, has a 16-page report about multi-generational railroaders – a take off on the PBS show “Finding Your Roots,” although I decided we should call our report “Finding Your Railroad Roots.” But that’s taking us off point.

Today, I want to share the railroad reference I found in a most unexpected place last week while I was home sick with the flu. I was dozing on the couch, watching TCM, but I heard it loud and clear. I had the 1953 Vincent Minnelli musical “The Bandwagon” turned on low. The speaker was the legendary Fred Astaire at the start of a number called “the Girl Hunt Ballet.” I think you’ll appreciate it.

“She came at me in sections. More curves than a scenic railway.”

Are you as surprised as I am? Given the audience of the early 1950s would understand that trains run in sections and that scenic railroads are curvy, I can see how those lines got worked into the movie. Heard 64 years later, I wonder how many folks still get it. But at least we railroad folk do! So keep an eye and an ear handy for those railroad references in the movies and in general culture. You just never know where a train might pop up.

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