Trains.com

Trains in old movies but not necessarily train movies

38799 views
525 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Friday, August 21, 2020 9:43 PM

I just watched a great film noir, "While The City Sleeps" directed by Fritz Lang from 1956. It's a newspaper movie (and I love those) set in New York and there is a scene where the hero is chasing the bad guy into the subway and whatta you know, no third rail but trolley wires and Los Angeles Red Cars are running on the tracks! In New York! I'm pretty sure one of the 55 Ford police cars had a California plate. Well worth seeing and what a cast; Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, George Sanders and Howard Duff. 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,967 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, August 22, 2020 9:29 AM

Film making budgets are tyrannical things.  If you can't afford to film a New York story in New York you do the best you can and hope no-one notices.  

One of the best newspaper / New York story films, if not THE best, is "Deadline U.S.A," filmed in 1952 and starring Humphrey Bogart.  A lot of the movie was shot at the New York Daily News building and printing plant so it's got a great deal of authenticity to it.  A great "Film Noir" worth watching.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,724 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, August 22, 2020 11:04 AM

Flintlock76
Film making budgets are tyrannical things.  If you can't afford to film a New York story in New York you do the best you can and hope no-one notices. 

Particularly tyrannical for B pictures even with famous directors ... perhaps especially with famous directors and famous 'talent' that has to be well-paid out of that tyrannically-limited budget...

This is of a piece with the 'they won't notice' artifacts of the first films shot with true portable cameras and faster film stock 'on location' in actual trains in the '50s.  As with many SMPTE wonder technologies this could lead to results like random boxcars moving in randomly opposite directions in the background of sequential frames in two-shots, an instant distraction even for many non-foamers...

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, August 22, 2020 11:47 AM

Well, the movie was from RKO studios which obviously didn't have the money that MGM had. This was mostly an indoor movie and the few exterior shots were a set that I've seen in many films and was a kind of generic "city" that could be anyplace. 

But here's a question- did the Red Car have any underground stations? I assume it may have been shot in a tunnel with a fake station set up. 

  • Member since
    November 2014
  • 209 posts
Posted by ORNHOO on Saturday, August 22, 2020 5:36 PM

54light15
But here's a question- did the Red Car have any underground stations?

At least one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subway_Terminal_Building

 

  • Member since
    November 2014
  • 209 posts
Posted by ORNHOO on Saturday, August 22, 2020 10:16 PM

The cable channel COMET has been celebrating Ray Bradbury's 100th birthday with a marathon of Ray Bradbury Theater episodes including this one where Jeff Goldblum rides a VIA RDC to the town of Erehwon (Canadian for the exact opposite of Willoughby): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNhm0Q618gM

 

(And keep a lookout for Ward Kimball as the stationmaster)

 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, August 23, 2020 7:03 PM

Last night it was John Ford's "The Long Grey Line" set at West Point. There is a scene set in 1917 where the troops board a train at the West Point station (it's still there)  and the train is pulled by a camelback. I've never seen one in a movie, much less in real life. 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,724 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, August 23, 2020 7:25 PM

54light15
There is a scene set in 1917 where the troops board a train at the West Point station (it's still there)  and the train is pulled by a camelback.

If I remember, this was mentioned in a now-old issue of Trains (in conjunction with CNJ Camelbacks) and as I recall it's our beloved 774, a locomotive that should have seen preservation several times over...

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,967 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, August 24, 2020 8:55 AM

Yep, it's 774 all right.  The film makers needed a steam locomotive for the 1917 sequence and the New York Central (That's the West Shore Line that runs through West Point) had none handy, so the CNJ's 774 was brought in. 

Yes, it's a shame 774 missed being preserved.  The CNJ had already donated a Camelback to the B&O Museum, and were willing to sell 774 to anyone who wanted it but there were no takers, or at least any takers who had the money to do so.  Imagine if "crowd funding" existed back in those days, it might have been a different story.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Monday, August 24, 2020 6:59 PM

Another Fritz Lang movie, "Clash by Night" from 1953 with Barbara Stanwyck and Marilyn Monroe. There is one scene with an SP locomotive running light. It's filmed in Monterey, CA where the canneries are or were and we've all read Steinbeck's Cannery Row. What he wrote about is what you will see. 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Friday, September 4, 2020 1:52 PM

"I Was a Male War Bride" directed by Howard Hawks with Cary Grant and Anne Sheridan. Not a lot of train action, but it's set in postwar Germany and you see the temporary narrow gauge railways laid on the streets to carry away rubble. Called Trummerbahns, I think. 

  • Member since
    November 2014
  • 209 posts
Posted by ORNHOO on Friday, September 4, 2020 4:15 PM

For postwar railroading in (Occupied) Germany, I would suggest the first film produced in Germany after the war; Berlin Express: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlfLqa54mww&list=PL8BJNGacupQnHzQTd7kQFrKKFIA_Pvwbg

 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,724 posts
Posted by Overmod on Friday, September 4, 2020 4:23 PM

54light15
you see the temporary narrow gauge railways laid on the streets to carry away rubble. Called Trummerbahns, I think. 

To help make the artificial mountains in parks called Trummerbergs.

(There are different German plurals but this is a discussion in English...) 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,967 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, September 4, 2020 9:27 PM

Overmod
To help make the artificial mountains in parks called Trummerbergs.

There's a semi-buried WW2 flak tower under one of those Trummerbergs in Berlin.  (Some of it still sticks out a bit)

It was easier to bury the flak tower than it was to tear it down!

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,967 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 10:15 AM

Just remembered this one, a 1972 Clint Eastwood film called "Joe Kidd."

I remember the ads, "If you're looking for trouble, he's Joe Kidd!"

A fun "shoot-'em-up" Western.  It's got a serious premise, but it's also full of a lot of comic situations.  Where does the train come in?  Clint ( as Joe) runs a locomotive through a saloon to get the drop on the bad guys and wrecks the saloon in the process!  The segment's hilarious!

  • Member since
    November 2014
  • 209 posts
Posted by ORNHOO on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 2:25 PM
For those who haven't seen it recently (or at all) "Ring of Fire" starring David Janssen will be on TCM tomorrow (9-30-20).
  • Member since
    February 2018
  • From: Flyover Country
  • 4,084 posts
Posted by York1 on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 2:31 PM

ORNHOO
For those who haven't seen it recently (or at all) "Ring of Fire" starring David Janssen will be on TCM tomorrow (9-30-20).
 

 

Thanks!  I've never seen that one.  I have it set to record if I forget.

York1 John       

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,967 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 4:07 PM

Woo-hoo!  I just found Joe Kidd's saloon visit!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78CM3oItu1U   

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 6:41 PM

I wonder if he asked about trackside service? Man, that was great! 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,967 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 8:14 PM

54light15

I wonder if he asked about trackside service? Man, that was great! 

 

It sure was!  When I saw the film in 1972 with some friends it had us laughing so hard we almost choked!  Too bad it's only 30 seconds long.

I found a longer version on YouTube but the video quality's awful, looks like it was shot off someone's TV.  

I found a better expanded version, changed the link on the original post.

  • Member since
    November 2014
  • 209 posts
Posted by ORNHOO on Sunday, October 4, 2020 6:10 PM

I was watching a documentary on Buster Keaton on TCM and found out about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYmcN12M97o

a short film he made for the Canadian National Railway.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, October 4, 2020 9:59 PM

Hmm- not to make a big deal out of that, but that is an official train movie (like Buster's The General) as opposed to the theme of this thread. Not complaining by any means. It's been discussed on another thread about a club in New York who fool around with Fairmont track speeders like the one that Buster rode. 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 10:09 PM

"The Lineup" from 1958 with Eli Wallach at his evil best is a noir-ish picture filmed on location in San Francisco mainly in the port area where there are rail tracks serving the piers. You don't actually see any trains moving but tracks do play an important part. There are ships, a vintage airliner (DC-6?) and lots of period cars and a whole lot of men wearing hats. There are scenes filmed on an elevated freeway that I understand collapsed in an earthquake. Well worth checking out! 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Friday, October 23, 2020 2:32 PM

I imagine that everyone has seen the classic British comedy, "The Ladykillers?" Well, check this out!

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2020/oct/23/on-set-ealing-comedy-the-ladykillers-alec-guinness-in-pictures 

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • From: The English Riviera, South Devon, England
  • 475 posts
Posted by Great Western on Friday, October 23, 2020 3:23 PM

54light15

I imagine that everyone has seen the classic British comedy, "The Ladykillers?" Well, check this out!

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2020/oct/23/on-set-ealing-comedy-the-ladykillers-alec-guinness-in-pictures 

 

It was on UK tv this week.  I have watched it many times.

A lot of the older, often black and white, UK 'who done it's' and comedies feature trains, either as stars or in supporting roles.  It is probably due to the UK not becoming quite as car conscious as North America in those far off days.

Alan, Oliver & North Fork Railroad

https://www.buckfast.org.uk/

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. Lewis Carroll English author & recreational mathematician (1832 - 1898)

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, October 24, 2020 10:26 AM

The last time I was in London I walked all around the Copenhagen Fields area, trying to find Mrs. Wilberforce's house but had no luck. I did see some areas that looked similar to scenes in the film. A part of my model railroad is based on that area just North of King's Cross and her house is just above a tunnel entrance and the "musicians" are walking toward the house. The "professor" is standing on a platform just below a semaphore. Fun stuff! 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,724 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, October 24, 2020 11:01 AM

54light15
The last time I was in London I walked all around the Copenhagen Fields area, trying to find Mrs. Wilberforce's house but had no luck.

You did see the note that it was filmed along Frederica Street, right?

It'll be interesting to see what they have done with the 'film quality' in the 4K release ... this is likely getting in the grain resolution range of the film stock... 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,382 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, October 24, 2020 3:22 PM

I did see that but the thing I was looking for was the house above the tracks, I assumed it was closer to King's Cross than Frederica st. I was at the big model train show (the biggest I've ever attended) a couple of years ago at Alexandra Palace and there was an N scale diorama of the entire area depicted in the film from the West side of the tracks. It was a work of art, mixing fact with fiction and all in perspective. 

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,841 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, October 24, 2020 5:24 PM

There was a black and white movie set in the UK during WW=2.  There was a train load of sea mines that a sabatouer was spotted . the trains was parked on a siding and a demolition expert was called iin.  Believe it was played by Glenn Ford ?.  Ended up having 2 bombs and last minute the woman showed up at the train,   Anyone more info ?

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,967 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, October 24, 2020 6:19 PM

It's a British movie called "Time Bomb" also "Terror On A Train" for the American release version.  From 1953, and starring Glen Ford.  Here's the story:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Bomb_(1953_film)  

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy