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All Aboard - Trains in Movies


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Trains have been both major and minor characters in movies for umpteen years. No matter the genre or plot, filmmakers love featuring trains.  Some of my favorite films featuring trains are: The Narrow Margin (1952), Silver Streak, Some Like It Hot, The Major And The Minor, The Palm Beach Story, Closely Watched Trains, Union Station, Gloria (Cassavettes /Gena Rowlands Original), The Train, The Lady Vanishes (1938 Hitchcock original), Murder On The Orient Express (Sidney Lumet), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974 Original), Berlin Express, Strangers On A Train, Agatha Christie's Poirot Series starring David Suchet - Murder On The Orient Express (Masterpiece Mystery PBS), Bad Day At Black Rock, Union Depot, and The Lady Eve. What's your favorite train movies.

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Trains have been both major and minor characters in movies for umpteen years. No matter the genre or plot, filmmakers love featuring trains.  Some of my favorite films featuring trains are: The Narrow Margin (1952), Silver Streak, Some Like It Hot, The Major And The Minor, The Palm Beach Story, Closely Watched Trains, Union Station, Gloria (Cassavettes /Gena Rowlands Original), The Train, The Lady Vanishes (1938 Hitchcock original), Murder On The Orient Express (Sidney Lumet), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974 Original), Berlin Express, Strangers On A Train, Agatha Christie's Poirot Series starring David Suchet - Murder On The Orient Express (Masterpiece Mystery PBS), Bad Day At Black Rock, Union Depot, and The Lady Eve. What's your favorite train movies.

Have often thought about starting a thread such as this, but there are way too many train movies that I like.  Just watched Dark of the Sun for one.

Will have to think about this one for a while.  But so people don't get confused, there are The Narrow Margin (1952) and Narrow Margin (1990) and Silver Streak (1976) and The Silver Streak (1934).  Silver Streak (1976) and The Narrow Margin are among my top five favorite movies.  Narrow Margin is one of the finer remakes of an earlier movie.

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Trains have been both major and minor characters in movies for umpteen years. No matter the genre or plot, filmmakers love featuring trains.  Some of my favorite films featuring trains are: The Narrow Margin (1952), Silver Streak, Some Like It Hot, The Major And The Minor, The Palm Beach Story, Closely Watched Trains, Union Station, Gloria (Cassavettes /Gena Rowlands Original), The Train, The Lady Vanishes (1938 Hitchcock original), Murder On The Orient Express (Sidney Lumet), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974 Original), Berlin Express, Strangers On A Train, Agatha Christie's Poirot Series starring David Suchet - Murder On The Orient Express (Masterpiece Mystery PBS), Bad Day At Black Rock, Union Depot, and The Lady Eve. What's your favorite train movies.

 

You've seemed to cover a lot of my personal favorite movies featuring trains in your above posting...well, except for one anyway...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k_LOWBvWCw

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Let's not forget the greatest -- and most heartbreaking -- train sequence ever depicted on the screen. It's the long, arduous trip from Moscow to Varykino in Sir David Lean's "Doctor Zhivago" (1965).

 

 

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A strategic Japanese railway in World War II Burma is the target of an Allied commando unit -- which includes a U.S. Navy commander (William Holden) -- in Lean's Oscar-winning film "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957).

 

 

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Then there are the two robberies of the Union Pacific's Overland Flyer in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) -- the outlaws hit it going and coming back. And the ominous arrival of the special train transporting an all-star posse headed by veteran lawman Joe Lefors. 

 

 

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One aspect of most train movies is that most interior scenes were filmed on soundstages and not actual trains.  An exception is Murder on the Orient Express.  If you watch it, you will see how tight the quarters are, especially the bedrooms.  The director intentionally did this for the closeness effect.

Dining car and coach scenes were more amenable to actual filming, but even then were often replaced by soundstages.

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Just remembered this.  In 2010, Trains Magazine published a special issue, 100 Greatest Train Movies. John Farr was the author, but unfortunately he was more of a film person than a train person.  This in the context of how much trains are featured in a movie as opposed to how good the movies were.  For example, he listed one movie where the only train related activity is an actor walking across a rail yard at the beginning of the movie.  On the other hand, he did not even include Narrow Margin (1990) and dismissed it.  It is a great "train movie" and 85% of it is on a train.  He did rank The Narrow Margin (1952) as number 18.

He ranks The Train as number one and North by Northwest as 2nd.  Fried Green Tomatoes is 100.

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Many of my favorites have already been mentioned. A few more that I like: Terror By Night (1946) with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, Von Ryan's Express (1965) with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard, Horror Express (1973) with Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Telly Savalas, and The Great Train Robbery (1979) with Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland. And, even though it got panned back in the day, The Cassandra Crossing (1976) with Sophia Loren, Richard Harris and Burt Lancaster.

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La Bete Humaine is a good train movie. The importance of the train to the story is evoked right from the beginning where Jean Gabin, an engineer, is seen in an extended shot of a train leaving the station. Some dandy cab shots are lingered over, a real treat for train buffs, or just about any of us. To a lesser extent, Human Desire with Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame, which was based on the same story (Zola), is the train made into an actual "character" of the story. But my memory of this latter is no longer green.

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Buster Keaton's silent film "The General" (1926) has become one of the most praised pictures of all time. When the American Film Institute released its 1998 list of the 100 greatest movies, Keaton's Civil War comedy -- co-directed by Clyde Bruckman -- was not ranked. When AFI updated the list in 2007, the film came in at No. 18.

 

 

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Two others I love are:

 

NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH, a "fake sequel" to THE LADY VANISHES, with Rex Harrison and Paul Henreid this time. Love how Chalmers and Caldicott are sure Rex is not a traitor because of who he played cricket for, and the whole conversation about "this is a FINE country to live in!"

night-train-to-munich.jpg

 

and TWENTIETH CENTURY, one of those great screwball comedies with Carole Lombarde, mostly aboard a train. Best part is the guy who posts "Repent" stickers all over the train. This was based on a play whose musical by Cy Coleman was revived on Broadway recently, and I wish it would come on tour to LA so I could see it :)

2975663_original.jpg

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Thirty years after Keaton released "The General," Walt Disney took the same historical material and produced "The Great Locomotive Chase." The 1956 drama, which starred Fess Parker, Jeffrey Hunter, Jeff York and John Lupton, was the story of "Andrews' Raiders" -- six of whom became the first Medal of Honor recipients in 1863.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epp9r-JjYvs

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My favorites are: Breakheart Pass; From Russia With Love; The Major and the Minor; Murder on the Orient Express; The Narrow Margin; Narrow Margin; North by Northwest; Silver Streak; The Train; Under Siege 2: Dark Territory; The Falcon's Adventure and The Saint in Palm Springs.

Probably more that I can't remember.

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It's only a three-and-a-half minute scene, but Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories" (1980) begins with a dream sequence involving a couple of trains. Allen's character, director Sandy Bates, quickly realizes he'd rather be on the other train. The comedy, noticeably influenced by Italian director Federico Fellini's Oscar-winning "8 1/2" (1963), was the debut film for actress Sharon Stone.

 

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Thirty years after Keaton released "The General," Walt Disney took the same historical material and produced "The Great Locomotive Chase." The 1956 drama, which starred Fess Parker, Jeffrey Hunter, Jeff York and John Lupton, was the story of "Andrews' Raiders" -- six of whom became the first Medal of Honor recipients in 1863.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epp9r-JjYvs

I had never heard of it til it was on TCM-- I really enjoyed it!

 

Don't forget the train in BACK TO THE FUTURE III

Doc-and-Clara.jpg

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In the movie "Matewan" (1987) there are 2 trains that were not built during the 1920 time period.  At the beginning you see the N&W (now NS) 1218 crossing a bridge at a distance. The scene after Sid Hatfield carrying the dead teenage Hillard Elkins, the Nickel Plate Road 765 heading toward the viewer head on.  The 1218 last came through my area in the 1990's and 765 just a couple of years ago.

 

N&W 1218 built 1943.

 

7436.1189436400.jpg

 

 

Nickel Plate Road 765 built in 1944.

 

NKP765.jpg

 

 

In "Public Enemies" (2009) the Milwaukee Road 261 is seen briefly at the train station, scene from the movie

 

publicenemies.png

 

 

261 was before John Dilinger's time, built in 1944.  It has a distinctive drive wheel design and the passenger cars are orange.  It has been recently restored and hoping it comes through my area. 

 

8732997999_bdd4516ba4.jpg

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In Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me" (1986), four friends (Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell) go off on an expedition during the Labor Day weekend in 1959. At one point, they make a bad decision to walk on a train bridge. The film was based on Stephen King's 1982 novella "The Body."

 

 

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