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Trains in old movies but not necessarily train movies

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 10:07 PM

Maybe not all that far off as most of the people commuting to NYC from CT were headed to Grand Central Terminal.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 9:24 AM

54light15

Here's one. "The Valley of the Dolls" from 1967. Total trash but still sort of worth seeing. They keep telling you that it's set in Connecticut but it features a New York Central commuter train which I think is shown at Mount Kisco on the Harlem Valley line. At that time there was service all the way to Millerton, if not further North. 

 

Oh yeah, the movies total trash all right, but there's some nice run-bys of that NYC commuter train with an RS-3 on the head end!

Forget the rest of it.  Although Barbara Parkins was a hottie though!

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Posted by 54light15 on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 2:50 PM

Sometimes ya gotta wallow in the trash. Pick any Russ Meyer movie but there's no trains in them but still, a lot to look at! 

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Posted by ORNHOO on Saturday, December 12, 2020 11:22 AM

Flintlock76
Cool!  I was a regular viewer of "Combat!"

It took me a while to find this, but the "generic french village set" on the studio back lot they used all the time included the "generic french railway station set" seen in this episode:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGqMR02eeQk

It was later available for this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNFzfwLM72c

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Posted by 54light15 on Friday, March 26, 2021 10:11 PM

This is a good one- "Grand Central Murder" from 1942 with Van Heflin and Sam Levene. A snappy whodunit set in a private car and among the platforms of GCT. I think it's mostly done on film sets but those NYC electric locos are cruising around. Well worth seeing! 

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Posted by M636C on Saturday, March 27, 2021 8:21 AM

ORNHOO

 

 
Flintlock76
Cool!  I was a regular viewer of "Combat!"

 

It took me a while to find this, but the "generic french village set" on the studio back lot they used all the time included the "generic french railway station set" seen in this episode:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGqMR02eeQk

It was later available for this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNFzfwLM72c

 

That's an interesting film set...

In the shot at 0:24 in the "Combat" video the cars on the right hand side of the screen appear to match those in the Bee Gees clip, but on the left side of the screen there is a generic British passenger car. I have seen similar mock ups used in pre WWII "Sherlock Holmes" movies among others...

Peter

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Posted by Juniatha on Saturday, April 3, 2021 12:56 AM

Did anybody mention this film?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OniBSbF42XI

Its an interesting document of the time of change over from steam to diesel and it's an interesting document of the society then ... sort of frightening.

Juniatha

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Posted by Sara T on Saturday, April 3, 2021 4:02 AM

Juni >>an interesting document of the society then ... sort of frightening.<<

Ohh-jee, ach-du-liebe-Zeit! That subdued, then outbreaking violence! I just saw a part of it then had enough! Society has advanced since then, still we should be glad we have become so tall we are not in that awful situation as those women were back then.

Broderick Crawford is said to have been a real boozer, in the series 'Highway Patrol' of the 1950s he is said at times to have been too drunk to play his role. But fast speaking like a diesel motor always seems to have worked. Hard for me to follow.  The series episodes are funny in that they only ran for 1/2 hour, so the criminals, all dressed in correct business suits and ties, were still a bit naive. 

These are two episodes which involve a train:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTN9fgl2qpM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDA3p-Fm2eo

I prefer Broderick Crawford much better in this role! And I like those fanciful cars! With fins like mad, can't believe it! And the soft suspension, wowwh!

Sara 05003

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, April 3, 2021 9:27 AM

Sara T
Broderick Crawford is said to have been a real boozer, in the series 'Highway Patrol' of the 1950s he is said at times to have been too drunk to play his role.

Oh yeah, Broderick Crawford loved his liquor all right.  In fact, when doing "Highway Patrol" his drivers license had been suspended due to drunk driving charges so the only driving he could do on the series was on private roads.

I doubt there were times he was too drunk to play his role though, Hollywood would put up with just about anything from popular actors in those days but not unreliability.  They could do just about anything off the set but when filming time came they had to be ready to go to work.  Delays in production cost money, an unforgivable sin.  Being unreliable killed a lot of star's careers and still does.

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Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, April 3, 2021 12:11 PM

I have three seasons of Highway Patrol on DVD. It's funny how the bad guys always drive convertibles and never once do they put their suitcases in the trunk, but always on the back seat. It's been discussed in another thread how whatever you see of southern California in the series doesn't exist anymore by being paved over for freeways and housing developments. 

"Human Desire" is a yet another great film from Fritz Lang- It was originally made in France in 1938, called "La Bete Humaine" with the legendary Jean Gabin. It's written up in Trains magazine's "100 Greatest Train Movies" from a few years ago. 

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Posted by Sara T on Saturday, April 3, 2021 1:05 PM

54light15: you wrote >>"Human Desire" is a yet another great film from Fritz Lang- It was originally made in France in 1938, called "La Bete Humaine" with the legendary Jean Gabin. <<

          Yes, but that is a totally different film and a different story: the French film tells of a sexual pervert who is shown as a victim himself of his overwhelming dark desires, the other film tells the decline of just a violent husband as there were so many at that time, one more, one less, but all despotic in one way or another. 

                Excuse if I write this so, I understand if not everybody is prepared to take this. But it shows how the whole society was built on standards that not many lived up to. Pretending that everything is fine and there is nothing to worry about was a thing so widespread, it was in no way better in Germany and it goes on in Turkey and India and the like states where women are now standing up even risking their lives! That our societies have developed on has not come easy. 

          In the Highway Patrol series, they have a simple two-way scheme: there are either the police which to 100% are the 'good guys' or there are the gangsters who clearly are the 'bad guys' and behave accordingly. That one episode "Blind deaf" where the wife of the bad guy protects that 10 years old against her husband is one rare break in the scheme. But the quintessence it tells to people so inclined is not good: show human behavior and you get caught!

         The best series of that kind of stories to me still is "Streets of San Francisco" with Karl Malden and Michael Douglas. It puts up a picture of more colors and shades.

Sara 05003

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, April 3, 2021 3:29 PM

"Streets of San Francisco" is classic TV!  I loved that show! 

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Posted by M636C on Saturday, April 3, 2021 11:05 PM

Juniatha

Did anybody mention this film?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OniBSbF42XI

Its an interesting document of the time of change over from steam to diesel and it's an interesting document of the society then ... sort of frightening.

Juniatha

 

That's a long distance train in the opening sequence...

It runs across the bridge at Harper's Ferry West Virginia on the B&O and stops in Albuquerque New Mexico, passing a Pennsylvania steam hauled freight on the way....

Does anyone know whose FA-1s were used in the movie? I was surprised that they took the A unit off the train leaving the B unit coupled when they ran to the locomotive depot, but I guess the turntable couldn't take the two units and for once they thought of continuity...

Peter

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, April 4, 2021 7:09 AM

M636C
 
Juniatha

Did anybody mention this film?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OniBSbF42XI

Its an interesting document of the time of change over from steam to diesel and it's an interesting document of the society then ... sort of frightening.

Juniatha 

That's a long distance train in the opening sequence...

It runs across the bridge at Harper's Ferry West Virginia on the B&O and stops in Albuquerque New Mexico, passing a Pennsylvania steam hauled freight on the way....

Does anyone know whose FA-1s were used in the movie? I was surprised that they took the A unit off the train leaving the B unit coupled when they ran to the locomotive depot, but I guess the turntable couldn't take the two units and for once they thought of continuity...

Peter

Don't overlook the ACL passenger train it passed on the way during the opening.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, April 4, 2021 8:20 AM

M636C
Does anyone know whose FA-1s were used in the movie?

Hard to tell with a B&W film, but looking at the paint scheme on the FA-1 I suspect it's a Southern Pacific locomotive with a ficticious 'road name applied.

Espee and the Santa Fe were typically the "go-to" railroads for Hollywood in those days when they needed some contemporary railroad action.

Oh yeah, that was one hell of a long-distance run all right, but I'll bet it was a fun trip!

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, April 4, 2021 9:31 AM

Sara T- If you liked "The Streets of San Francisco" then you will surely like "Naked City" a police series set in New York that is based on the 1948 film noir, "The Naked City" from 1948, directed by Jules Dassin. 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 4, 2021 11:28 AM

BaltACD
Don't overlook the ACL passenger train it passed on the way during the opening.

Or the repeated views of the Pulaski Skyway from a highly interesting angle, or just a few moments later sliding southbound across the Delaware on PRR... look for the famous Trenton slogan. here seen with the 'last part first'.

No one has apparently mentioned using FAs on long passenger trains.  Not for any lack of PAs to be used as motion-picture props by 1954!

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 4, 2021 11:44 AM

Something I find interesting is that neither Renoir's nor Lang's version contains two elements of Zola's story: the almost Psycho-like rages the engineer suffers (NB he has no such issues with La Lison!) and the implied horror of the last scene, where they topple from the footplate, leaving the train running at full speed as the soldiers behind wisecrack and play, unaware that their lives are all measured in minutes...

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Posted by Sara T on Sunday, April 4, 2021 4:25 PM

Oh, I see you all are completely unaware of anything not strictly railroad matters. You notice exactly where the train scenes were filmed and ridicule about how it doesn't fit together but you never look at the broader story the film tells about how society then was restricted and lived on false demands and requirements or guidelines. This was a society where everybody just pretended to be someone he never was nor ever could be. In reality, they all fell behind what they pretended to be. Even this do-gooder (Gutmensch, you find the proper translation) played by Glen Ford pretty easily falls to take profit of a difficult situation this wife of Crawford is in. Before he even knows her he kisses her, not very convincing. Later, rather unconvincingly the plot is here too, she wants to persuade him to murder (!) her husband (although it is portrayed he has become unbearable) and then (I was surprised then, because he had come home from war) he failed to do so. No, forget all those unfitting railroad items, it was not filmed for the knowing enthusiasts. But Crawford was (to me at least) fitting for the role in a frightening way, he was convincing to the point it told how it was in reality. Glen Ford was good in his portrayal of the bored diesel driver, hardly a thing to do but just sit there in this crumpled gesture one foot up on some installation, not too comfortable. But the other scenes were so-so. At least he didn't look so out of time as in some of his Western movies as a cowboy where he rode the horses like a station wagon.

Sara

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, April 4, 2021 5:08 PM

Hey Sara, I'm sure the guys get the point of the film, but the problem is if you're a railfan you just can't ignore the glaring errors as far as the trains are concerned, they jump right out at us!

Movies rely on what's called "The willing suspension of disbelief" on the part of the audience.  Certainly anyone watching that film knows that's not a real railroad engineer, it's Glen Ford playing an engineer, but when the "disbelief" kicks in it doesn't matter anymore.  The problem is that "disbelief" is a tenuous thing, and it can be broken when an audience member spots something that's just not right.  In this movie it can be the wrong train in the wrong place, something a railfan's going to notice. In a Western it can be the wrong guns in the wrong time period, in a war movie it can be the wrong tanks, in some films it can be the wrong cars, there's a number of things that can break the spell.

Sometimes knowledge is a curse!  You sure don't want to be in a room with me when I'm watching a historical-themed film!  

I'll agree with you about Glen Ford, a fine actor, but he seemed to be better suited to roles set in contemporary society rather than in Westerns. 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 4, 2021 5:39 PM

Sara T
Oh, I see you all are completely unaware of anything not strictly railroad matters. You notice exactly where the train scenes were filmed and ridicule about how it doesn't fit together but you never look at the broader story the film tells about how society then was restricted and lived on false demands and requirements or guidelines.

This is a train forum, not film school.  That doesn't mean we can't discuss the deeper issues, only that most here were looking for good films with train scenes or themes.

Neither Lang's nor Renoir's film takes up many of the societal issues Zola raises.  Lang in fact turns Zola on his head, perhaps to suit American tastes ... whereas in Zola she is fully aware of Lantier's murderous willingness, in the Lang version she presupposes it -- supposedly because he 'killed' in wartime, without comprehending in the least how males have dealt with that issue in the wars of the Twentieth Century,, successfully or unsuccessfully.  Here, in Lang's version, that attempt at manipulation not only falls flat; Ford's character realizes that everything in the whole business has been a manipulation.  And with that, he's done.  Note the byplay with the "precious" letter, which seals this as much as any film trope could.

When the girl comes clean at the end -- she intends it as a great epiphany -- that the affair with her 'godfather' was entirely her idea and her plan, even that comes across as if manipulation, as if we should believe that any more than anything else she's tried.  And the filmmaker takes a cheap and lazy way out -- even death takes on a childish and unconvincing sort of appearance, just another poorly-mimed brutish act mostly offscreen as if to save Hays Office sensibilities.

Meanwhile, Gabin had wanted to make a film about locomotives -- probably something we'd all love to post about in detail here.  Blundering about for a plot involving trains, they settled on Zola ... but mainly for the name recognition.  As they worked on it, smoking their Gauloises into the wee hours, they found themselves cribbing scenes more and more from their probably dog-eared copy of La Bete Humaine ... but apparently not understanding all that much of what the points of the story Zola intended were.

That's not to say you can't make a cracking good film noir or expose of human foibles on the general subject, but that isn't all a good adaptation ought to do.  Here, in the Renoir the railroading is almost peripheral, not even a necessary plot device; in the Lang we keep coming up against what we all know of railroading and finding so little of the plot and the characters reflecting the reality.  Even one of those Eddie Sand stories with the empire builder's daughter falling in love with the railroad hero had more ... well, relevance to what interests the people actually knowledgeable about or interested in railroading, rather than just trains in the background or as a plot device.

Was the Crawford character typical of a railroader at an earlier stage of history? well, that would have been truly interesting to consider -- constant danger, low quality of life and no prospect of real advancement, always tired and drinking and booming -- the culture out of which the Big Rock Candy Mountain song came, and which plastered caboose walls with images of unattainable (and, if you think about it, incomprehensible) women ... then expose them to a young, attractive, "available" but flawed woman and watch what happens.

The problem is that that wouldn't give you a four-quadrant movie, or even something telling the sort of happy-ending-for-the-hero-villains-get-their-comeuppance story that sold in cinema in the postwar years.  Here, the movie stays tense, with Lang's eye for composition and blocking, right up to the point the 44-tonner and cars obscure the imminent altercation.  Past that, right up to the point Ford says he couldn't kill him.  Then it all goes to pieces.  That was the place for all the complex relationships between people 'pretending to be someone they never were or could be' started to play out against each other, as the flawed characters themselves would have seen it.  Instead we get a bunch of stereotypes -- perhaps very good stereotypes; had Gloria Grahame actually had lines to work with, she could have been magnificent in creating a character... but it turns into mere screenwriting, and worse, we can't ignore it.  Fortunately, perhaps, we can try to read the builder's plates or guess why the diesel-engine idle changes between shots... things the filmmakers lovingly captured without tinkering with them.

Personally I thought Ford was reasonably good in that part, for the same reasons Cameron cast Arnold Schwartzenegger as the lead in the Terminator -- the woodenness was the life.  Were he sophisticated, or more complex a character, he would have seen through the manipulation at some earlier point ... and there you'd be, having to call Writer's Guild West on the '50s equivalent of speed-dial and having to pay for a bunch of rapid rewriting to recover something that would give you an ending to fit.  Whether that would have given you a better movie, or whether a better 'leading man' would have worked better in this one, I can't say.  Who would you suggest for the 'bored diesel driver'?  (Perhaps more to the point, who would you suggest to play Jacques Lantier from the original?)

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, April 4, 2021 5:58 PM

Did you notice the difference in signals ?   Searchlight,position lights, three aspect stacked.,Semaphores, and a couple others. As well the pole lines were definitely out of the 40s and 50s,  Santa Fe classic location on the transcon where other pictures had the diesels refueled.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, April 4, 2021 6:00 PM

Did you notice the difference in signals ?   Searchlight,position lights, three aspect stacked.,Semaphores, and a couple others. As well the pole lines were definitely out of the 40s and 50s,  Santa Fe classic location on the transcon where other pictures had the diesels refueled.

Trento sign on bridge, What appeared to be Washington Union station

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Posted by rixflix on Sunday, April 4, 2021 7:38 PM

On the lighter side, a movie I watch a couple of times a year is "Sullivan's Travels". This film was probably mentioned early on in this long thread and possibly by me. Recommended to me by my dad when he was about 90 years old. Still funny.

Every time October 4 comes around I commemorate "Broderick Crawford Day", as in 10/4. According to his bio sources he wouldn't have had much trouble with the drinking scenes and that may have been real hooch in the film. But give him his due, he was a pro and did show (or sober) up for a lot of stuff, most notably as Willie Stark.

Alfred Hitchcock also managed to get trains into several flicks besides "North by Northwest". Don't know if he was an acknowledged or closet railfan.

I think there was a "Sky King" episode that may have been based on the City of San Francisco wreck.

Rick  

rixflix aka Captain Video. Blessed be Jean Shepherd and all His works!!! Hooray for 1939, the all time movie year!!! I took that ride on the Reading but my Baby caught the Katy and left me a mule to ride.

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, April 4, 2021 9:51 PM

In Sullivan's Travels, Joel McCrea's character wanted to make a film called "Oh Brother Where Art Thou." The Coen brothers movie of that name is the film that they imagined that he made and there is a sort of railroad scene in it of the characters riding on a handcar. I loved that picture and the music!  

McCrea was a great actor, especially in westerns. "Ride the High Country" with Randolph Scott is superb! 

Here's another western where a train is a key part of the film but it's not a train movie- "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." One of John Ford's best. 

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Posted by Sara T on Sunday, April 4, 2021 10:00 PM

(Another night I can't sleep ...)

 

Overmod,

 

Hoooo  .. you have a way to write a whole novel about a topic that could be cleared with one sentence. 

Please note that this topic really is painful for me, I don't like to discuss the deficits of that film in scrutinizing detail because they cause me pain!

 

Still, ok, I will answer your's because I don't want to leave my post misunderstood:

 

>>Was the Crawford character typical of a railroader at an earlier stage of history<<

That is not the point! I never remarked on that at all. What I remarked upon was the character of a violent husband he played there and in that he was so convincing that it became hard for me to watch! Please try, at least try!, to put yourself into the position of an average woman, probably 1/4 of his physical strength and less willing to become violent. Me, I have not come into such situations because I'm taller than most men and it looks like they avoid messing with a woman they have to look up to. But I can still imagine what horror it is to be plainly at the will of such a man, in good or in bad! Unfortunately, it seems you can't. 

 

>>and which plastered caboose walls with images of unattainable (and, if you think about it, incomprehensible) women ... then expose them to a young, attractive, "available" but flawed woman<<

What is an "incomprehensible" woman? This is the old stereotype of "women are irrational and cannot be understood"? The last part is like the reasoning for women have to wear this full-body covering in Islam: men are not responsible for "falling" for an "available" woman! Is that what you think? I don't believe it!

 

>>with Lang's eye for composition and blocking, right up to the point the 44-tonner and cars obscure the imminent altercation. <<

?? where is a "44 tonner"?

 

>>and there you'd be, having to call Writer's Guild West on the '50s equivalent of speed-dial and having to pay for a bunch of rapid rewriting to recover something<<

Ok, perhaps my English comes to its limit here but I feel like this is one of your less understandable sentences. If you like you could explain it, but ok, never mind.

 

>>Whether that would have given you a better movie, or whether a better 'leading man' would have worked better in this one, I can't say. <<

On the opposite! I wrote that in his role as a diesel driver he was good!

 

>>Who would you suggest for the 'bored diesel driver'? (Perhaps more to the point, who would you suggest to play Jacques Lantier from the original?)<<

Tzzzzh! No, I never mentioned a thing like that! The Lang film has very little if any resemblance to the Renoir film to me. Its whole essence is different. Only because here and there you have men working on the railway doesn't make the films comparable. I am not an expert on railroads, but I know about filmmaking and I see no concordance between those two films. In your railroad approach: the one plays in France in steam time, the other in the USA and in times of changeover to diesels, you only hear steam in the background. To me: the French film portrays the agony of a sick man (I don't see that "she is fully aware of Lantier's murderous willingness (willingness!? there is a scene where the whistle of a locomotive makes him awake from his madness and he feels banjaxed)" ), the other portrays the wrongs and constrictions of the 1950s society, even if that perhaps wasn't the main intention then. But Lang as a filmmaker sometimes did films that seemed to have come a bit out of his hands in what they told. That was so in his famous science fiction film "Metropolis". 

 

You expect people to read through your long postings, but I feel you are not prepared to read other people's postings carefully, at least not mine.

Please think about it. At present I don't feel like I'm understood here.

 

Sara

 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 4, 2021 10:18 PM

The concordance between the films is obvious: they claim to be from the same novel, by the same author.

That they are very different from each other and the novel is obvious, but you should read others for sense as carefully as you yourself claim to want to be read.  

The Writer's Guild is the 'union' for script changes in Hollywood.  

By Lantier of course I meant the Zola character, not Renoir's imitation.  He is subject to neurotic rages against women in the book and that was a reason for the female character in the book to presume his ability and willingness for similar rage to murder in general.  Ford's character in the Lang movie is very different, I said this clearly, you seem devoted to missing the point.  There is much more psychological drama in this movie than just violence.

Part of film noir came out of the pulp fiction tradition, which had as its stock-in-trade far more vicious violence against women than anything pretended in these movies, often with far more inherent misogyny.  Much early science fiction is now almost unreadable for those reasons alone.  Surely I sympathize with any women made victims of institutionalized violence, especially when 'socially sanctioned' but it is difficult to steer a discussion of trains in movies to hammer on that sole point just because you want to, then make fun of people who don't appear to agree fully enough immediately.  I agree, full stop.  Especially if the subject is painful.  We'll go back to trainwatching.

Incidentally, the GE 44-tonner is the small switcher that pulls cars, like a merciful curtain, across the scene where the murder is supposedly about to take place.

I was starting to type more about railroaders... but I see the Kalmbach gremlins are playing tonight and the page keeps resetting.  That is probably a sign for me to stop.

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Posted by Juniatha on Monday, April 5, 2021 12:50 AM

You two should stop this - you never get to where ends meet.

=J=

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, April 5, 2021 8:31 AM

PBS started a series called Atlantic crossing.  The opening scenes were of a train trip by the Norway crown prince and his wife going to FDR's residence.  The train definitely was not North American,  Car interiors were definitely European and the outside had open vestibules with the cars a bright green in color.  Did not catch if the car(s) had buffers,

Later in first episode hour those same type cars were shown in a Norway train but not same color.

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, April 5, 2021 8:43 AM

For Atlantic Crossing, I'm guessing that they might have used the Swedish equipment from the Hull-Wakefield train in Quebec. The train used on that line is still in North America, not sure where but the HW  closed down when the track was washed out years ago. 

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