Trains.com

Trains in old movies but not necessarily train movies

39521 views
530 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    July 2010
  • From: Louisiana
  • 2,229 posts
Posted by Paul of Covington on Sunday, May 10, 2020 11:39 AM

NP Eddie

I saw the "Jazz Singer" last week. There are two great shots of two ATSF passenger locomotives passing Al Jolson in a passenger station.

 

Ed Burns

 

   I remember the scene with the great big beautiful locomotive passing by, spouting steam and smoke, but not making a sound.  This being an early "talkie", I figured it didn't occur to them to include the sound.   There was just music playing.

_____________ 

  "A stranger's just a friend you ain't met yet." --- Dave Gardner

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,176 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 10, 2020 11:47 AM

It's a bit of a misnomer to call "The Jazz Singer" the first "talkie," in reality it was a "semi-talkie."  Jolson's musical numbers had sound, with some  spoken dialog, but the film was mostly silent otherwise.  More semi-talkies followed.

The first all-talking film was "Lights Of New York," released by Warner Brothers in 1928.  

NDG
  • Member since
    December 2013
  • 1,457 posts
Posted by NDG on Sunday, May 10, 2020 2:04 PM
A Movie that Barks?
 
Train after time 10:10.
 
 

Thank You.

 

P.S.

 

There is another filmed on the Southern Pacific when showing the Obligatory Cab Scene, the Fireman is Hand Firing an Oil Burner.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,412 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, May 10, 2020 4:37 PM

I've always wondered when the last real silent movie was made. I know Chaplin still made silents I think almost until he made The Great Dictator. Would Mel Brook's Silent Movie count? 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,176 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 10, 2020 5:57 PM

Chaplin's last silent film was "Modern Times," which was done in 1936, although Chaplin does a brief sound musical number toward the end of the film.  I'm pretty sure "Modern Times" was the last silent film until Mel Brooks' movie came along.

Yeah, I'd say Mel's film was the last silent, at least the last major silent.  Who knows how many indie films were done silent that no-one remembers?

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • From: Parma Heights Ohio
  • 3,442 posts
Posted by Penny Trains on Sunday, May 10, 2020 7:03 PM

The trains of Metropolis:

It's interresting to note that for major films such as Metropolis, there was a full orchestra playing the music and the actors were there performing their film lines in front of the screen at the film's premier.  January 10, 1927 in Berlin:

Local theaters didn't really exist in those days, at least not everywhere.  Here's Munich in August of 27:

It's also interresting to note that this film was one of the first done in black and white.  Previously most movies released in Germany had all been hand tinted color films. 

Orchestras, dramatic readings, color.  It's easy to see that many of the ideas we have about old films are misconceptions of hindsight.

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

  • Member since
    July 2010
  • From: Louisiana
  • 2,229 posts
Posted by Paul of Covington on Sunday, May 10, 2020 7:24 PM

Flintlock76
Yeah, I'd say Mel's film was the last silent, at least the last major silent.

   OK, it's time to start a feud.  Silent Movie does not qualify as a silent movie because there was one word spoken in it.

_____________ 

  "A stranger's just a friend you ain't met yet." --- Dave Gardner

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,176 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 10, 2020 7:45 PM

Paul of Covington

 

 
Flintlock76
Yeah, I'd say Mel's film was the last silent, at least the last major silent.

 

   OK, it's time to start a feud.  Silent Movie does not qualify as a silent movie because there was one word spoken in it.

 

Yep!  Spoken by Marcel Marceau!  Clown

Mind you, that condition should also disqualify "Modern Times" due to Chaplin's song and dance routine, but most film historians would disagree.  

Here's Charlie's routine from "Modern Times."  He gives himself a lot more spoken words than Marcel Marceau got in "Silent Movie!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FIt4g9fgcg  

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,176 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 10, 2020 8:05 PM

Penny Trains
Orchestras, dramatic readings, color.  It's easy to see that many of the ideas we have about old films are misconceptions of hindsight.

Absolutely true!  Toward the end of the silent era many of those films hit an amazing level of technical sophistication.

Sound put a cramp on everyone's style for a time as the camera became a slave to the microphone, but that didn't last too long.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,882 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, May 10, 2020 8:17 PM

Penny Trains
The trains of Metropolis:

Penny, pan down.  The trains run in that brilliantly-lit canyon at the bottom.  You are looking at a transit line, not even a subway.

There may, if your information is correct, be an answer to a question I've wondered for over 50 years: what is the exact tune Death plays in the relevant scene?  His bony fingers are doing one of the great pre-Harryhausen displays of stop-motion, but too quickly for me to figure out which notes he's sounding -- and I play the recorder.  If there is a full orchestral score for that scene -- there will logically be some indication of what the animation is supposed to produce.  Wouldn't it be nice if that documentation has survived?

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,412 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, May 10, 2020 11:54 PM

Near the end of Metropolis there is the scene of wrecked cars. Those are Rumpler Tropfenwagens, probably the first car ever to have aerodynamics incorporated into its design. Shaped like a raindrop when viewed from above. That makes sense as Edmund Rumpler was an aircraft engineer in Germany and designed the Taube monoplane. There is one in the main Deutsches Museum in Munich as well as a Tropfenwagen in their transport annex near where they hold the Oktoberfest. The Tropfenwagen was miles ahead of any other car made at the time and remains one of the most slippery cars ever built. Not bad for 1921. 

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • From: Parma Heights Ohio
  • 3,442 posts
Posted by Penny Trains on Monday, May 11, 2020 7:36 PM

Overmod
There may, if your information is correct, be an answer to a question I've wondered for over 50 years: what is the exact tune Death plays in the relevant scene? His bony fingers are doing one of the great pre-Harryhausen displays of stop-motion, but too quickly for me to figure out which notes he's sounding -- and I play the recorder. If there is a full orchestral score for that scene -- there will logically be some indication of what the animation is supposed to produce. Wouldn't it be nice if that documentation has survived?

It's a variation (interpretation? extrapolation? impression?) of the Dies Irae with a bit of xylophone played over top.  I'd link the clip, but the Maria-bot isn't exactly fully clothed.  Wink  The composer, Gottfried Huppertz:

   http://fimumu.com/huppertz/

...also sampled La Marseilaise.  It's his bandmaster's copy of the score that was used a few years back to create the best restoration of the film ever done:

There were notes on the sheet music that allowed them to figure out what scenes were supposed to be shown.  But with at least 25% of the original film missing and presumed lost forever (bombed out of existence), they filled in with title cards describing the action or an occasional production still if it fit well enough.

Death, like the "Maschinenmensch" (Machine-man, the robot) was a costumed actor.  The costumes were made from "plastic wood" rolled flat and laid over a body casting of Brigitte Helm and sculpted.  (If I remember correctly she played all three parts.)  So they're not stop-motion.

Check out this page for info on a 2016 recreation of the costume: http://kropserkel.com/metropolis.html

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

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,412 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Monday, May 11, 2020 8:22 PM

Last night I watched the 1956 film "Giant" with James Dean, Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor. There are some scenes of a Chesapeake and Ohio steam locomotive, not sure of the type, pulling 3 heavyweight passenger cars. Later there are shots of an F3? diesel. There are some interesting cars in it too, such as a Rolls-Royce touring car, a Duesenberg and an Isotta-Fraschini. 

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,445 posts
Posted by M636C on Monday, May 11, 2020 8:45 PM

54light15

Last night I watched the 1956 film "Giant" with James Dean, Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor. There are some scenes of a Chesapeake and Ohio steam locomotive, not sure of the type, pulling 3 heavyweight passenger cars. Later there are shots of an F3? diesel. There are some interesting cars in it too, such as a Rolls-Royce touring car, a Duesenberg and an Isotta-Fraschini. 

 
I'm pretty sure that the locomotive was a Norfolk and Western 4-8-0, relettered for the movie. It may be the one now at Strasburg. I think the movie was made too late for C&O steam power, but N&W still had steam available.
 
Peter
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,882 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 6:50 AM

Penny Trains
Death, like the "Maschinenmensch" (Machine-man, the robot) was a costumed actor.  The costumes were made from "plastic wood" rolled flat and laid over a body casting of Brigitte Helm and sculpted.  (If I remember correctly she played all three parts.)  So they're not stop-motion.

I learn something every day.  For some reason I thought Death was too bony to have someone inside.  It would be highly notable that Helm knew how to play a wind instrument!

For those of us that can't play Flash video correctly, here is Penny's linked site:

http://kropserkel.com/robot.html

I have to think, though, that the 'unnamed Canadian stunt woman' is, in fact, the moral heir of Brigitte Helm and deserves to be recognized by name.

 

 

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,445 posts
Posted by M636C on Sunday, May 17, 2020 6:31 PM

An amusing little movie "Loch Ness" deals with an attempt to find the Loch Ness Monster. When the scientist returns to London to discuss his findings, he travels by train. There is a very brief runpast by an electrically hauled BR Inter City train in the cream red and black "Executive" colours.

The interiors, filmed in a MkII open first class car and a Mk I RB buffet are very convincing, to the extent that they may have been filmed in a real train. I can't imagine that the distinctive buffet interior could have been captured in a mock up in what was a fairly low budget movie.

In 1974 I rode across the Tay and Forth bridges in a similar BR buffet, and this movie reminded me of that day.

Peter

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,928 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, May 17, 2020 7:33 PM

The Brits use trains a lot in their various masterpiece ministries.  There are a lot of station scenes with one of the restored steam engines.  Also almost all train scenes have the train departing the station  with 2 lower quadrant semaphores showing.

Some shows.  Call middwife, father Brown, Endeavor, Downton Abby, etc

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,176 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 17, 2020 7:42 PM

blue streak 1
The Brits use trains a lot in their various masterpiece ministries.

I think you meant "mini-series," but that's OK, I got your point right away.

And they certainly do use a lot of steam scenes.  The British love their heritage railways!  

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,882 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, May 18, 2020 1:08 PM

Meanwhile there are movies in which recognizable trains are operating but are peripheral to the actual movie.  We've commented in the past on the recognizable NYC Alco operating in a couple of scenes in The Pawnbroker.  There's an Elvis Presley movie that starts with his arriving on a train powered by a Geep (I think GM&O) which then pulls out replete with glorious 567 music.  If I remember correctly there's some parallel action in a couple of scenes in Psycho -- not that many people would be thinking of remembering trains after seeing that movie.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,882 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, May 18, 2020 1:10 PM

Meanwhile there are movies in which recognizable trains are operating but are peripheral to the actual movie.  We've commented in the past on the recognizable NYC Alco operating in a couple of scenes in The Pawnbroker.  There's an Elvis Presley movie that starts with his arriving on a train powered by a Geep (I think GM&O) which then pulls out replete with glorious 567 music.  If I remember correctly there's some parallel action in a couple of scenes in Psycho -- not that many people would be thinking of remembering trains after seeing that movie.

There is a 'borderline' case in the Spielberg movie of "Duel", where the thing only extends to three blasts of the horn but is nonetheless one of the most memorable things in a memorable movie.

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 11,013 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Monday, May 18, 2020 1:32 PM

Penny Trains

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

 

The stoker screw runs under the tank?Surprise

Johnny

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,412 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Monday, May 18, 2020 1:33 PM

Speaking of the G. M. & O. this scene reminds me that Rod Steiger was one of the greatest actors ever. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXfD-Ai_QuA

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • From: I've been everywhere, man
  • 3,986 posts
Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, May 18, 2020 3:10 PM

Overmod

There is a 'borderline' case in the Spielberg movie of "Duel", where the thing only extends to three blasts of the horn but is nonetheless one of the most memorable things in a memorable movie.

Ever notice what the truck has for a front bumper?

A shame it had a Cummins engine and not a Detroit.  Would have been fitting for Kettering's two children to team up, which is how that scene seems to play out, especially with the horn 'conversation' at the end. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,445 posts
Posted by M636C on Monday, May 18, 2020 5:20 PM

54light15

Speaking of the G. M. & O. this scene reminds me that Rod Steiger was one of the greatest actors ever. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXfD-Ai_QuA

 

The closing scene and credits of In the Heat of the Night showing the GM&O train leaving town with a long helicopter shot starting with a view through the window of Sidney Poitier and ending with a view of the whole county is most impressive particularly for the views of the whole train.

Peter

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • From: Parma Heights Ohio
  • 3,442 posts
Posted by Penny Trains on Monday, May 18, 2020 6:29 PM

Ex-GTW Mikado No. 4070 in The Natural:

4070 in 2017:

Robert Redford sat here:

 

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

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 6,199 posts
Posted by Miningman on Monday, May 18, 2020 8:03 PM

Two great great movies listed back to back. In the Heat of the Night and The Natural.  Passenger trains play a pretty important role in both. 

Pennys favourite steam locomotive and Peters dead on description of the end of the movie. 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,412 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Monday, July 6, 2020 10:16 PM

Ennio Morricone 1928-2020 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1PfrmCGFnk 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,176 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 10:54 AM

54light15

Ennio Morricone 1928-2020 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1PfrmCGFnk 

 

A true musical genius!  How many movie themes can people recognize just by others whistling just the first five notes?  Not many.

Arrivederci, Maestro Morricone!  

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 2,412 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Friday, July 24, 2020 10:08 AM

I just saw "The Cincinatti Kid" with Steve Mcqueen. A good movie, like Newman's "The Hustler" but with poker, Edward G. Robinson, Ann-Margaret at her sexy best (yow!) and Cab Calloway of all people. Set in New Orleans in the 1930s, early on he escapes the bad guys by running onto a roundhouse turntable that is moving and holds two Santa Fe diesel switchers. I assume the SF had a yard in New Orleans but the diesels were modern. Still a great flick. 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,176 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, July 24, 2020 1:59 PM

I remember seeing a Charles Bronson film years ago, I think it may have been "Hard Times," where Bronson plays a drifter who's also a bare-knuckle boxer. Set in the 1930's there's a railyard scene with a diesel switcher in operation.  After all this time I couldn't tell you what kind but it looked too modern in my estimation to be a 30's unit.  It certainly wasn't a CNJ style boxcab!

We saw "Flags Of Our Fathers" when that came out, and one scene had the Iwo Jima flag raisers arriving in Chicago behind a Burlington diesel cab unit.  Lady Firestorm leaned into me and whispered "Shouldn't that be steam?"  "I'll tell you later," I replied. 

It was OK for the period, it was the Burlington E5 from the Illinois Railroad Museum in all its stainless steel glory!  

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