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Trains in old movies but not necessarily train movies

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Trains in old movies but not necessarily train movies
Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, April 5, 2020 10:31 PM

Since I have a lot of time on my hands, I am watching a lot of classic movies on DVD. I just watched the film, "Goodbye Mr. Chips" made by MGM in 1939. There are scenes of English trains and Austrian trains from about 1880. They do not look like sets, they do look real in their details as I am well familiar with vintage European railway equipment. Now, here is my question, did movie studios own such trains? I know that there were and are railroads where westerns were filmed, but what about European trains for films set there? I've read a lot about Hollywood in those days and that MGM was the biggest studio so they must have been able to afford to bring over such equipment. Did they? 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, April 6, 2020 9:33 AM

I asked Lady Firestorm, my resident old movie expert, about "Goodbye Mr. Chips," and it was filmed in England, so you're looking at real English trains in that film.  The Austrian trains are dressed-up and altered British trains.  The movie dates from 1939 so there's NO WAY they were going to Nazi-occupied Austria for film-making! 

"Goodbye Mr. Chips" is actually a British film imported and released by MGM.

The only rail equipment studios owned that I'm aware of would have been 19th Century locomotives and rolling stock, handy for Westerns of course, and more-or-less contemporary passenger cars for on-site studio sets.  For anything else it was easier for Hollywood to go local with the Santa Fe or Southern Pacific, or sometimes further afield to places like the Sierra Railroad.  

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Monday, April 6, 2020 9:56 AM

One of my favorite movies.

I wish I liked the remake, but even Petula Clark can't save it for me. 

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Posted by chutton01 on Monday, April 6, 2020 10:46 AM

"The Rebel Set" - a movie I have only seen on MST3k (where it is given a hilarious riffing treatment, although the movie is not that bad). The movie is set in then contemporary times (1959), and involves an elaborate armored car heist during a station stop in Chicago on a passenger train from Los Angeles to New York (this actually baffled me a bit the first time I saw the movie - there is some question whether it is two different trains or not, but since it's all UP stock doesn't matter) - so basically at the end you have a UP passenger train going thru to New York (Newark).

The end of the movie is an extended chase scene clearly filmed in and around one of the UP's LA yards (or maybe the LAUPT yards, not certain), with a decent amount of UP (and SP and ATSF) locomotives (road and switcher), passenger stock, mail express, etc. visible (again, remember that final scene is supposed to be Newark NJ, so west coast power is freely traversing New Jersey in this film universe).

The outdoor yard chase fimed real RR equipment, but alas the interior train scenes (sleeper and dining car) as well as the stations are clearly sets.

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, April 6, 2020 1:01 PM

For some reason it didn't occur to me that Goodbye Mr. Chips was filmed in the U.K. I must say that the Austrian equipment did look authentic. Obviously it wasn't filmed after September of 1939. I have a film from 1931, Danger Lights filmed on the Milwakee Road in the northwest as you can see catenary above the tracks in most scenes but it's set in a vague location that's supposed to be about 100 or so miles from Chicago. 

I loved MST3K- there's a guy in my neighbourhood and that's his cars vanity plate. Cool or what? 

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Posted by chutton01 on Monday, April 6, 2020 2:02 PM

54light15
I loved MST3K- there's a guy in my neighbourhood and that's his cars vanity plate. Cool or what? 


Well, considering the recent Netflix version lasted only 2 seasons before being canned, I guess MST3k, like the rest of the 1990s, has been relagated to nostalgia only (although the crews will still be being tours, RiffTrax, and the like).

Last year I was watching a lot of Sherlock Holmes online, notably the really good 1980s/1990s set of series staring Jeremy Brett, as well as the 1940s movies starring Basil Rathbone.  The Rathbone movies - I don't recall if they used props or actual stock, but the later Brett ones (there were several series made till Brett passed away in 1995) featured a fair number of scenes using (preserved) UK railways with historic stock.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, April 6, 2020 2:42 PM

Leo_Ames

One of my favorite movies.

I wish I liked the remake, but even Petula Clark can't save it for me. 

 

The remake was lousy, the only part I liked was when Petula Clark gets killed by the V-1, the "buzz bomb."

Wow, I better explain myself!  I liked the way the sequence was done from the V-1's point of view, flying over the English countryside with the "throb-throb" of the engine as background noise, then the engine cuts out, the bomb goes into its dive, and as it gets closer and closer to the ground you can hear Pet Clark's voice getting louder and louder as she sings to the troops, and then, BOOM!  

It was bone-chilling.  

The Basil Rathbone Shelock Holmes films were all shot here in the US, so any actual Brtish train scenes such as run-bys would have been stock footage.  Interiors, exteriors in train stations, all would have been props or studio sets.

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, April 6, 2020 2:50 PM

54light15

For some reason it didn't occur to me that Goodbye Mr. Chips was filmed in the U.K. I must say that the Austrian equipment did look authentic. Obviously it wasn't filmed after September of 1939. I have a film from 1931, Danger Lights filmed on the Milwakee Road in the northwest as you can see catenary above the tracks in most scenes but it's set in a vague location that's supposed to be about 100 or so miles from Chicago. 

I loved MST3K- there's a guy in my neighbourhood and that's his cars vanity plate. Cool or what? 

 

I never saw all of "Danger Lights," but what I did see caused me to wonder how the train could get to Chicago from the electrified section in such a short time. Now I know.

Johnny

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, April 6, 2020 4:00 PM

I've seen "Danger Lights" myself, several times, it's a fun movie, but it struck me as amusing that when the film opens what you see is a steam locomotive running under the wires, and you never see one of the electrics, ever. 

I suppose the film-makers thought the steam locomotives were a lot more interesting.  No kidding!

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 6, 2020 4:31 PM

chutton01
Last year I was watching a lot of Sherlock Holmes online, notably the really good 1980s/1990s set of series staring Jeremy Brett, as well as the 1940s movies starring Basil Rathbone.

But did you listen to any of the radio programs with Rathbone and Bruce?

I'm afraid that, for me, no one since Rathbone has come anywhere near capturing the rational character of Holmes.  Brett was like Bob McAllister trying to follow Sandy Becker or Sonny Fox.  The modern version reminds me a bit of Marlon Brando trying to play Captain Bligh...

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Monday, April 6, 2020 8:24 PM

Deggesty

 

I never saw all of "Danger Lights," but what I did see caused me to wonder how the train could get to Chicago from the electrified section in such a short time. Now I know.

 

The movie is available from the Internet Archive site.

I got a chuckle watching that sequence, seeing the train leave Miles City, then heading westbound through Lombard (~300 miles west of Miles City) and somehow managing to arrive in Chicago a few short hours later.

My dad told me about filming of the pushing contest in the movie. Not sure if he saw it or heard from who saw it.

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, April 6, 2020 10:26 PM

Sandy Becker? Sonny Fox? Overmod, you obviously grew up in or near New York City. 

There are so many films that feature trains like Brief Encounter, The Lady Vanishes or The French Connection that while not being train movies, trains are key to the plot. 

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Posted by 03 1008 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 1:23 AM

The brochure "Steam in the Movies" published by "Steam Railway" has this to say: "The story of a public schoolmaster. Includes a scene shot at Sherbourne station in Dorset (renamed Brookfield for the film) with an 'M7' tank engine and a short train. ..."

Best wishes from Germany, take care, Helmut

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 2:32 AM

54light15
Overmod, you obviously grew up in or near New York City. 

Yaah ... where did all the yesterdays go? ...

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 2:41 AM

Out there... somewhere in Space-Time

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Posted by chutton01 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 7:34 AM

"Sandy Becker? Sonny Fox?"
I grew up in the NY Tri-state area starting from the mid-1960s (having not existed before then) and I had no idea who those people were till I looked it up.  If anything I was a Sesame Street kind of kid till the widespread adaption of 'syndication' on the 'independants' like WOR, WPIX and "Metromedia NY, 5". Yay Gumby, Scooby-Doo, Mr. Ed, and so on. OK, I also watched Mr. Rogers from time to time, and you can guess why...

Someone mentioned there are lots of movies wherein a train plays an important plot point, which is very true.  What immediately comes to my mind is a century old film of Buster Keaton's, "One Week",  wherein a newlywed couple attempt to build a self-assemble 'kit' home with sabotaged instructions.  While the first train that passes by doesn't really play a major part...

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 8:07 AM

In the French TV series "Maigret" one episode entitled  'First Class Murder' takes place entirely on a halted train and station (a restored 1940s steam-powered train).

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Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 9:11 AM

Buster Keaton's One Week- oh yeah! As classic as they get. Regarding Maigret, I am only familiar with the series with Michael Gambon. There's trains in several episodes and lots of old Citroens, my favourite car. 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 10:55 AM

Miningman
Out there... somewhere in Space-Time

Vince, it's a song reference.

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 11:26 AM

Yeah I know, couldn't resist. Would perhaps wreck the tune but maybe make it ok for Physics class, or bring it into a whole new perspective.

My apologies regardless. 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 11:30 AM

"Ahhhh-- you're a native Space-Time-rrr..."

Could work.

Of course the original song was NOT very flattering to native New Yorkers... or, in fact, male New Yorkers...

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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 11:36 AM

This is a little off the topic, and I know it's been mentioned before, but in the 1957 movie, "The Black Scorpion", a train is attacked  and wrecked by the monster.

If you watch in slow motion, you can see the tender has "Lionel Lines" on it:

 

 

Here is the short clip from the movie.  The train wreck starts about 5:40.

 

York1 John       

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 12:03 PM

Ok so it's TV, not a movie, but this has to be the absolute best use of model trains on screen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kS-vk9mPR8

And here's an interesting take, the engine is sentient and a character in the film, and some significant scenes take place onboard.  Note how the Engineer carefully takes slack to start the obviously overtonnage train:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBTLH1rud5k

And at the end he forgets to bail off when setting the brakes, causing the slack to run in.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 12:24 PM

With respect to Dumbo, do note that the car behind "Casey Jr" is modeled on the Carson & Colorado car that Ward Kimball bought in the late 1930's. Ward and several other folks were very familiar with railroading.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 1:28 PM

I also like the attention to detail on the outside-braced wooden elephant car.

And the squared journal boxes, even if they don't have lids!

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 2:08 PM

The late, great, cartoonist Walt Kelly of Pogo fame was an animator on Dumbo. He was a train buff too like Disney and Kimball. I wonder if the giraffe car was the inspiration for the Lionel giraffe car. Must have been. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 3:33 PM

Anyone notice the firebox flash in Casey Jr.'s cab when he's working hard?

Nice little attention to detail there!  

And just to show you how much trouble Lionel was in during the 60's even Gomez Addams couldn't get the public interested in Lionel products!  

But there was still some true believers out there, thank goodness!

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 5:32 PM

54light15

Buster Keaton's One Week- oh yeah! As classic as they get. Regarding Maigret, I am only familiar with the series with Michael Gambon. There's trains in several episodes and lots of old Citroens, my favourite car. 

 

The Michael Gambon series was excellent.  This Maigret was the original French-Belgian production with subtitles that ran many years,  1991-2005, with Bruno Cremer in the title role. Citroens, Peugeots. Renaults etc.  + trains. 

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Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 6:02 PM

Another Buster Keaton classic is "Seven Chances" where you see vintage Los Angeles streetcars, trains, even a steam-powered railroad crane. Buster is being chased by thousands of women in wedding gowns through the dusty streets of 1920s L.A. Great stuff! 

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Posted by Penny Trains on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 7:12 PM

Why, and better yet HOW, do people keep putting tenders on backwards!?!?  Confused

Trains, trains, wonderful trains.  The more you get, the more you toot!  Big Smile

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