• Railroads in the movies

  • 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

  by eddiebear
For movies find LOOK BACK IN ANGER, with Richard Burton and Claire Bloom, mid-1950s. This is an English movie and Burton has a lot of emotional rage and he drinks. The block in which he lives faces a street and other side of the street is a multiple track main line up on an embankment. Every few minutes, day or night a train speeds past and there's lots of whistling.
I grew up earlier than some of you and I recall that the Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry, had trains on his TV show. I think it was the Owens Valley ng line of the SP which was still in business at the time. The cowboy hero, on his trusty steed Champion, could always catch the bad guys who were making their escape via the train.
  by Komachi
I'll agree, "Strangers on a Train" is one of Hitchcock's great films and I also liked his use of the 20th Century Limited in "North by Northwest."

Here's a few more some have missed...

"Runaway Train." Jon Voigt as an escaped prisoner aboard a quartet of runaway Alaska Railroad locomotives... good stuff.

"Silver Streak." Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor are a great comedy team. Also an interesting use of CP Rail equipment as members of the AmRoad fleet. I'm just currius to know if they used a real locomotive for the wreck at the end, or if that was a mockup as well?

There was also a film starring William Shatner that I can't really remember, involving him and an Amtrak train. The Internet Movie Data Base (imdb.com) lists it as a TV movie called "Disaster on the Coastliner" (I couldn't tell ya if it was a TV movie or not... I saw it on TV in the early 90s and I was barely 3 in 1979, so I can't verify what it was exactly... anyone else remember?)

And for non-"train centric" films...

"Torque." A recent film for motorcycle enthusiests (especially the high-performance "crotch rockets"). I went to see it for Jessie James' (of West Coast Choppers and "Monster Garage" fame) cameo in the film. There's a scene where the protagonist jumps onto the roof of a rolling passenger train (a CB&Q Zepher train in California?) and then rides through the interior (the filmakers had the diaphrams retracted on the sides of the passenger cars, and the platforms between the cars exposed, allowing the stunt rider to drop down onto it (unless that was all CGI) and proceed through the cars).

All I can think of right now.

  by ShayFan
I'm suprised that nobody has mentioned Silver Streak. Those F units appear to be Canadian Pacific engines with "AM ROAD" signs covering the "CP RAIL". The locomotives and part of the train crash halfway through the train station at the end of the movie.

  by 7 Train
Here are some:

Queens Logic (1991)-double-header AEM7's in a brief shot over the Hell Gate Bridge. Plenty of bridge shots (film set in Astoria, Queens) with Joe Mantegna climbing the structure

Trading Places (1983)-Interior of a Heritage sleeper (set of course), 30th Street Station shots, SEPTA M3's, K-cars, brief shot of AEM7 on the corridor

The Station Agent (2003)-Critically acclaimed independent film set in rural Newfoundland, NJ about a small dwarf. NYSW B-40-8's at Newfoundland station, NJT Geeps, scenes along the Morristown & Erie Dover-Rockaway ROW.

The Ice Storm (1997)-Metro-North M-2's in Penn Central logos on the New Canaan shuttle. Interior scenes with Kevin Kline and Toby Maguire.

  by NHRDC121
"Disaster on the Coastliner" was made for TV, and did star William Shatner along with Raymond Burr. Exterior scenes were shot on Amtrak's ex New Haven RR Shore Line in Niantic and Midway (Groton), CT. The scene where Shatner and the crazy engineer jump from the roof of the F40 was shot at Niantic River draw, aka "Nan".
Here's a couple more for you...."The Cassandra Crossing" w/ Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner, et al.
"Narrow Margin" (2nd ver) w/ Gene Hackman
"Narrow Margin" (1st ver) w/ Charles McGraw-haven't seen this one, myself.
There's also a Czechoslovakian film called "Closely Watched Trains" that takes place during WW2 that's a little bizarre, but interesting.
  by shortlinerailroader
I think it is funny that in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" they depict a train breaking down when it is simply an Alco RS11(?) functioning (smoking) properly.
  by 2nd trick op
For fans of "film noir", who could forget Fritz Lang's "Human Desire" (1954)?

Engineer Glenn Ford is lured by seductress Gloria Grahame into doing in her yard-bull husband. And can anyone think of an actor better suited to play a railroad bull than Broderick Crawford?

The rail scenes are secondary to the plot, of course, and those of us who've ridden the NEC will recognize the famous "Trenton Makes, the World Takes" ad passing in the background several times over.

But Ford's steed is a classic Alco cab unit, and the artistic context of the rail technology makes for one of the most impressive examples of its use in cinema.
  by Raakone
Ever scene "Baseketball"? When the Milwaukee Beers team is "On the Road", there's a couple of scenes with Amtrak trains. The first one shows a "red-nose" (not sure, maybe an SDP-40) pulling Heritage cars in Phase I-II paint, as well as what appear to be CP-Rail single level commuter cars (now known as "800's" and used in Montreal) The second scene shows a Genesis pulling another consist across a bridge with a more recent paint scheme....and the idea is it was going to San Fransisco (Might not be that long before that actually happens, who knows?)


  by rhallock
Here are some excellent ones. "It Happened to Jane" about 1955 with Jack Lemmon I believe. I was made using the very last operating New Haven RR steam loco. Do whatever you have to to get a copy.
"Star over India" about ethnic strife in India. Much of the movie is about an escape with a real relic of a steamer.
"The Long Grey Line" also mid 1950's. The train sequence is short- at the beginning of the film- but notable. A Jersey Central camelback was brought up to West Point on the West Shore line for it.
"Hello Dolly" train scene made just across the Hudson River at Cold Spring NY. I may be mistaken, but I think they used an old steamer from the B&O RR museum.
The original "Silver Streak" about 1935 using the Burlington's Pioneer Zephyr. A real classic.
"Von Ryan's Express" WWII Italy.
"The Lady Killers" a dry British comedy where the bodies are dispossed of by dumping them into hopper cars of passing trains from the top of a tunnel mouth.

  by rhallock
A few corrections: "it happened to Jane" was from 1959, also starred Doris Day.
"Flame over India" not "Star over India"

Here is a list from TRAINS mag.
http://www.trains.com/Content/Dynamic/A ... 9nitlt.asp

  by dreamer
I recently saw "Where The Hell Is That Gold?" on tv. The film starred Willie Nelson and was filmed on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The movie crews accidentally destroyed a bridge during filming, briefly shutting down the C&T.
It's not really a great movie, but the railroad and equipment are in virtually every scene.
Someone mentioned "Von Ryan's Express" and "Emporer of The North".
These are classic railroad films and they ARE great movies by any standard.

  by 1st Barnegat
Aa3rt wrote:...The Molly Macguires-not a railroad film per se, but lots of railroad scenes using 4 foot gauge equipment from the long closed Carroll Park and Western, lettered "Carbon and Schuykill" to represent late 1800's anthracite railroading. (A subsequent poster informed me that the steamer used in this movie is now at the Pine Creek Railroad in New Jersey.)
Pine Creek Railroad?!?!

Which of their locomotives was used in the filming of the Molly Macquires? I live 10 miles from the Pine Creek Railroad and could get a photo of it if I knew which one.

  by 1st Barnegat
rhallock wrote:..."Hello Dolly" train scene made just across the Hudson River at Cold Spring NY. I may be mistaken, but I think they used an old steamer from the B&O RR museum....
The "Hello Dolly" open observation coach is part of the consist on the Strasburg Railroad in Strasburg, PA. See http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/

I would have to agree with the earlier posts that the "Emporer of the North" and "Breakheart Pass" are both great railroad movies.

To add to that, and while not railroad movies per se, watch “Three Days of the Condor” with Robert Redford. It has a great shot of the Erie-Lackawanna terminal in Hoboken. (Now, of course, it’s New Jersey Transit’s Hoboken terminal).

Another good movie is “Fried Green Tomatoes,” where railroad shots always precede changes in the plot. Most are of prototypes, but the one with a passenger train at night could be a set of Lionel PRR model cars.

As for the movie “The Train,” as previously stated, real steam locomotives were wrecked. The French National Railways helped out when that movie was shot in 1964 to the extent that many of those steam locomotives were going to be scrapped at that time anyway.
Last edited by 1st Barnegat on Fri Oct 15, 2004 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by Aa3rt
First Barnegat-the loco in question is a tender type 0-4-0. The listing at SteamLocomotive.com says this is 40" gauge. Don't know if this is a typo or if I was incorrect about it being 48" gauge. Anyhow, here are links to the SteamLocomotive.com listing:


And a couple of links to the Pine Creek/New Jersey Museum of Transportation site:


Finally, a photo of what I believe is the loco in question. If you do make the foray there to photograph the loco, I'd appreciate some feedback on what the gauge is. Either way, it is incompatible as is with the Pine Creek's 3-foot gauge.

http://www.njmt.org/NEWPICS/locomotives ... 1.jpg.html
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