• Railroads In The Movies, Part II

  • Discussion related to railroads/trains that show up in TV shows, commercials, movies, literature (books, poems and more), songs, the Internet, and more... Also includes discussion of well-known figures in the railroad industry or the rail enthusiast hobby.
Discussion related to railroads/trains that show up in TV shows, commercials, movies, literature (books, poems and more), songs, the Internet, and more... Also includes discussion of well-known figures in the railroad industry or the rail enthusiast hobby.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  • 180 posts
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 12
  by mrconductor55
Whats the worst that can happen, a Comedy starring Danny DeVito and Martin Lawrence, features a Conrail Geep idling in a yard in the opening scene. The movie was supposed to take place in Boston.
Before I turned the channel in disgust, I noticed a coach car, from the intro to "Stardust Memories", a 1980 woodie allen film. The scene features Lackawanna MU cars, with steam blowing all around, and dubbed in steam train sounds. Lots of wicker to be seen, as well as those awesome light fixtures, and old fashioned door knobs, at the vestibule doors. Natch, when that scene was over, I killed that channel...... :P
  by Gilbert B Norman
During the first season of the TV series, Mad Men, there were various scenes depicted aboard passengers trains. Whether the Coach's interior shown was filmed "on location" or was simply a stage set, I know not. However, if the latter, the Set Director (you know that guy you see in the productions credits) certainly did a good job.

The second season has contained favorable mention as well. In the second episode after reference to an aircraft crash that was in fact real life, a line of script went to the effect of (Don) "they don't want us flying for a while; I was going to fly out to a meeting in Cleveland; guess I'll have to take the train". (Francine) "Oh, but I like the train".
  by Vincent
I saw Transsiberian this weekend. It's not in wide release, but rail fans should love this movie. Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are a couple returning home from a church mission in China via the Trans-Siberian Railway who inadvertently become drug couriers. Woody is a genuine foamer who has spent enough time playing train sims to figure out how to operate a Russian locomotive and save his butt from the evil Russian mafia. The scenery and the railroad footage are great--it has to have been filmed in Russia. The melodrama might get a little tedious, but the train footage will make up for the soap opera bits. Ben Kingsley co-stars as a Russian narcotics detective. Anyone who thinks that Amtrak's equipment is run down will be in for a surprise when they see the Trans-Sib rolling stock and if you think that Amtrak employees are cranky, just wait until you see the battle-axes that crew the Trans-Sib.

If it's not in a nearby theater it will be released on DVD November 4th.
Last edited by Vincent on Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Here's more on the flick noted by Mr. Vincent:


Hopefully, HoBO or Starz will pick it up sooner or later, as the only DVD player I have is this computer.

As an aside, the neighbor who set this computer up for me when I got it during Feb '07, wanted to see if it was properly configured for DVD's "just in case you decide to get one". As I recall what happened was that he asked his eight year old to "just give me any DVD so I can see if "Mr. Gil's" computer is working right". She did, and I couldn't believe it; the male actor Eddie Murphy was playing some overweight woman!!!!. I guess that is what kids watch nowadays (with in this case with the sanction of responsible parents).

Suffice to say Little Jenny has heard about her "selection" from Mr. Gil.
  by PClark
After 12 pages I am amazed that nobody has mentioned "Murder on the Orient Express"

I realise the train is stuck in a snowdrift for most of the movie but there are some wonderful "moving train" scenes with highly evocative music near the beginning.

The nostalgic Wagons-Lits interiors are wonderful and, had this movie not been made, it is doubtful if James Sherwood would have been inspired to create the "Venice-Simplon Orient Express."

Also "Travels With My Aunt" has a journey from Paris to Istanbul on the Direct Orient Express.

"Bhowani Junction" set in British India.

Another favourite that I jhave on DVD is Judy Garland in "The Harvey Girls"

Some wonderful numbers, including "On the Atcheson Topeka and the Santa Fe" and "The Train Must Be Fed"
  by pennsy
Murder on the Orient Express is one of my favorites, and I have it on videotape.

Good point about lack of consistency. How many times have you seen a movie that takes place somewhere on the east coast, and the train that pulls up is being led by engines with Santa Fe markings, or worse. Some people attend movies, or watch them on TV just to see how many such errors can be found. I first caught the phenomenon with a series on TV called "Ike the War Years". In several scenes you see him with various insignia of rank which is inconsistent with what he was supposed to be in that scene. And in the credits some active duty Colonel was the advisor, hmmmmm.
  by PClark
I agree with pennsy that there are many inconsistencies in the way that railroads are portrayed in the movies and other theatre.

An example:-

The wonderful 1973 movie "The Sting" (7 Oscars, including best picture) has the three main characters (Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Robert Shaw) involved in a poker game on a journey from New York to Chicago on the 20th Century Limited. The movie was set in 1930, when the timing of the train was 20 hours yet the impression given was that the trip did not involve overnight travel at all. The Century arrives in Chicago in the evening (i.e. it's dark) of the same day it departed New York in the afternoon.

I also seem to recall that the train conductor (who seems to have no other duties other than to act as manager of a high stake poker game) introduces two players as being from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Wouldn't they have been on the Broadway?

Another anachronism, though not in the cinema, was in the Broadway musical "On the Twentieth Century"

The brilliant stage settings for this hit show were obviously based on the 1938 streamlined train designed by Henry Dreyfuss yet we have the female star, Lily Garland (played by Madeline Kahn) singing the following:-

"Let me see,
Let me see.
When would I be available?
When would I be free?



Never. That is the word I choose. That is the word I use.
  by Jtgshu
I was watching a great classic movie the other night on "Chiller" - a channel on DirectTV

"Duel" - 1971


Its apparently a made for TV movie, with Dennis Weaver being chased by a road raged and crazed trucker, who was driving a tanker full of "flammables"

There are at least 2 scenes where the Southern Pacific is involved. One is where he is driving down the road, thinks he is ahead of truck but the gates come down an a long SP train with 4 locos passes. While stopped, the truck comes up and is trying to push him into the train.

there are a few other scenes where he is on a mountain road and the train is roughly following the road and seen in the distance.

Another scene is he has pulled off the road at a private road and Xing, and hiding behind a rock in his car, to escape the truck. The truck passes by and he falls asleep in his car (a classic Plymouth Valient). he is awoken to the sound of an air horn, and thinking its the truck he awakes in terror, but its an SP Geep (or SD9) passing by him with a train.

all and all, its a good movie - ive seen it a few times, not the best acting, but a good movie with now classic cars and trucks (and trains!) Gotta love the sound of the Slant 6 in the Plymouth :)
  by Death Star
The Outsiders has a couple train scenes. A Frisco EMD unit in the very begining a BN unit moving a car don't remember where and the scene where Ponyboy and Johnny hop the train to get out of town. A BN SD40-2? I think? is leading the train I think. That part was shot at night and shadows envelope the locomotive so it was hard to tell. But at the begining of this scene when the railroad crews are inspecting the train at a small yard to se if any stoaways or "riders" are in any boxcar street lights are seen and I think I saw a BN logo on the side of the engine. Anyone confirm this?
  by 2nd trick op
Blame it on a dull day at work, if you like, and too much time for the mind to wander, but...

It has dawned on me that we rail buffs have our own paralell to the famous Burt Lancaster/Deborah Kerr "beach scene" in From Here to Eternity.

Anybody else remember the William Holden/Kim Novak scene in Picnic, with a MoPac freight bearing down in the background? :-)
  by Gilbert B Norman
TCM aired"Twentieth Century" last evening. While the storyline of this flick starring John Barrymore and Carol Lombard borders on "Farcial" (I suppose that during the depths of The Depression people needed lighthearted relief; think we all are now in for a taste of such ourselves), the stage sets appeared authentic with regards to a heavyweight Sleeper's Drawing Room. Further the "costumes' for New York Central and Pullman Conductors also appeared same, as well as the few clips of NYC steam locomotives and a scene depicting La Salle St Station.
  by PClark
The movie "Twentieth Century" was produced in 1934 so there was no chance of it showing the '38 Dreyfuss streamliner.

The '73 Broadway musical "On the Twentieth Century" (never a movie) is essentially the same story line (but with songs added) and is set in '32 or '33 but features the locos, colour scheme and interiors of the '38 train.

As a tribute to Paul Newman, "The Sting" was shown on Australian Foxtel the other night and, while it is set in the early '30s (IIRC '35), the "chapter heading page" for the scene on the Century shows the '38 streamlined loco as, I think, does a very brief shot of the loco passing in the night. The interiors are definitely heavyweights though.

Tonight (or tomorrow) one of the Australian Foxtel movie channels has a double feature of the 1976 "Cassandra Crossing" (lots of stars but lots or innacuracies) followed by Hitchcock's 1951 "Strangers on a Train"
  by Gilbert B Norman
This is the Army was aired, appropriately, by TCM on Veterans Day. Of interest was Robert Osborne trivia that the rights to this film were donated to the Army by Warner Brothers and are to this day held by the Department of the Army (since the Army is within the Department of Defense, shouldn't it really be the Bureau of the Army? fat chance of that!!!), which I guess Turner (Time Warner) "did their part" to reduce the Federal budget deficit with the payment of royalty to the DOD in order to air the film.

To the rails, there are a number of clips of both Santa Fe and SP Daylight trains within the film.
  by lpetrich
As to absurdities, how about trains to Florida departing from NYC's Grand Central Terminal?

I've seen that one a few times, like in the Supertrain TV series. It's an absurdity because the tracks leading out of that station go northward, and going southward from there would require some detouring. But the name "Grand Central Station" or "Grand Central Terminal" sounds much more impressive than the name of the real GCS/GCT nowadays, Penn Station. And never mind that GCT's name is now hopelessly anachronistic, since only Metro-North now stops there, and it only goes out to Poughkeepsie and New Haven.

I also recall that some TV show reportedly featured some characters waiting for a train in Philadelphia -- at a station which looked like a southern-California commuter-rail station. But that's Hollywood I guess -- everything looks like southern California.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 12