New Haven Railroad in Film

Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Ridgefielder
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New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Ridgefielder »

I watched the 1956 classic "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit," starring Gregory Peck, this past weekend. I'd seen it before, but was struck this time around by what a big part the trains of the NYNH&H play in the movie. The plot is set in motion by a conversation on the train between Westport and GCT as it traverses the Park Ave. Viaduct, and one of the first scenes in the movie is clearly shot on location at the eastbound side of the Westport (& Saugatuck, as it was named then) station as an eastbound pulls in behind an EP-5. (For those not familiar with the plot, Peck's character is a businessman who lives in Westport-- fictionalized as "South Bay"-- and works in NY).

So, that got me thinking: what other Hollywood movies are out there in which the New Haven plays a supporting role? I know the 1968 version of "The Thomas Crowne Affair" features a sequence at South Station-- anything else spring to mind?

TomNelligan
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by TomNelligan »

The 1969-ish Jack Lemmon comedy "The Out Of Towners" also begins with a crowd scene at South Station. I was one of the extras making up that crowd when they filmed it in the middle of the night!

There's also the late-1950s comedy "It Happened To Jane", much of which was filmed on the New Haven and featured the NH's last surviving steam locomotive and some brand-new FL9s.

davidp
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by davidp »

Alice's Restaurant (1969) features the Berkshire branch, including a train with a single FL-9 making a station stop. The station in the movie is supposed to be Stockbridge - as the retaurant was "just a half a mile from the railroad track" - but I think they actually used Great Barrington.
Dave

Ocala Mike
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Ocala Mike »

The 1958 film, "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!" (Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward) satirizes, among other things, commuting on the New Haven Railroad from the fictional town of Putnam's Landing, CT. Film was a real bomb, but some interesting NH shots.

The above comment about Alice's Restaurant is interesting; Arlo Guthrie now runs his Guthrie Center out of the old church seen in the film, and it is in fact located in Great Barrington, just a matter of a hundred yards or so from the tracks of the Housatonic RR (former NH Berkshire branch).
Ocala Mike (formerly Hillside Mike and Deer Park Mike)

Ridgefielder
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Ridgefielder »

TomNelligan wrote:The 1969-ish Jack Lemmon comedy "The Out Of Towners" also begins with a crowd scene at South Station. I was one of the extras making up that crowd when they filmed it in the middle of the night!
That must have been really cool! Haven't seen that movie in a long time, but if I remember right there's also a long scene on an almost standing-room-only Shore Line express, including a cafe car that's sold out of food.

Thought of another one. 1948's "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, and set in fictional Lonsdale, CT) has a scene that appears to have been shot at the Cannondale, CT depot as a NY-bound Danbury Branch train arrives behind an EP-3.

gawlikfj
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by gawlikfj »

The 1958 Movie with Doris Day & jack Lemmon called " It Happened to Jane " Shot in CT.
Some scenes were in Hartford, New Haven, Putnam Ct.
Last edited by gawlikfj on Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

eddiebehr
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by eddiebehr »

Strangers on a Train, a Hitchcock movie from about 1951 has some New Haven shots. It starts out with the strangers sitting in the observation car with the New York terminal area receding down the tracks. This is not the New Haven. When they get out to the country they leave the train at Metcalf and you get some shots of American Flyer coaches. The stars make several trips to Metcalf. With the track level with the surroundings, no embankments or cuts, I'm guessing the exterior shots are either somewhere north of South Norwalk or north of Devon.

chnhrr
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by chnhrr »

My movie memory is not great, but wasn’t s there a brief appearance of an EP-5 leaving the Park Avenue Tunnel in “The Detective” staring Frank Sinatra and Lee Remick?

gawlikfj
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by gawlikfj »

The movie " The Day The Earth Stood Still " has a New Haven EP-5 in it.

Tom Curtin
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Tom Curtin »

Comments in the above:

Strangers on a Train rail station footage (given, as you said, the fictional name "Metcalf") was all shot in Danbury in October 1950. I was there (at age 5, so my memories are kind of faint, but I had that chance to watch Hitchcock direct!)

It Happened to Jane was mostly shot on the Valley Line in Chester CT but as other posts pointed out there were scenes in Hartford, New Haven, and Plainfield CT. Not in Putnam, CT though. The filming was June-July 1958.

The station in Alice's Restaurant really is Stockbridge. It was shot in 1968 (although the film is dated 1969) and thus depicts the NH, not Penn Central! It's hammed up somewhat but is all essentially a true story that took place in 1965 and 1966, and is shot at the actual locations.

Rally Round the Flag Boys was, as you said, a bomb, although the brief EP-3 footage at the beginning is great. The novel it was adapted from was 10 times funnier. It was inspired by an actual event. "Putnam's Landing" is Westport. The US Army Air Defense Corps really did construct a Nike-Zeus missile base in Westport in 1956 (For those who weren't around then, let me say lots of things like that were done during the cold war). I doubt a trace of it remains today -- it was in northern Westport on North Avenue, just north of where Staples High School is now. Westport's most celebrated residents, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, agreed to play the leads --- even though they are not comedians, they obviously had fun doing it --- simply because they were Westport's most celebrated residents.

Statkowski
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Statkowski »

All of the preceding movies were done with the cooperation of the New Haven Railroad except for Alice's Restaurant. No New Haven people, from management to traincrew, knew they were going to be filmed until it happened. The cast of hippies got on at the station before and overwhelmed the passenger crew with one-stop fares. The "engineer" at the throttle was not the actual engineer, but rather a railfan (first name George) running the train (life on the Berkshire Line was a lot friendlier back then).
Ex-NYNH&H SS Opr

Ocala Mike
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Ocala Mike »

Somehow, that story about the film Alice's Restaurant is altogether fitting. I hope the "cast of hippies" didn't leave a bunch of garbage on the train; I'm sure a railroad version of Officer Obie would have taken them down to the police station if they did!
Ocala Mike (formerly Hillside Mike and Deer Park Mike)

Noel Weaver
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Noel Weaver »

Statkowski wrote:All of the preceding movies were done with the cooperation of the New Haven Railroad except for Alice's Restaurant. No New Haven people, from management to traincrew, knew they were going to be filmed until it happened. The cast of hippies got on at the station before and overwhelmed the passenger crew with one-stop fares. The "engineer" at the throttle was not the actual engineer, but rather a railfan (first name George) running the train (life on the Berkshire Line was a lot friendlier back then).
Funny but I heard the same thing regarding this movie. I actually saw the movie on TV but I do not have a tape of it.
I am not sure about the railfan running the engine but I am sure it was possible in those days.
Noel Weaver

Statkowski
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Statkowski »

Noel, I got the story straight from the horse's mouth (both engineer and railfan).
Ex-NYNH&H SS Opr

Noel Weaver
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Re: New Haven Railroad in Film

Post by Noel Weaver »

Statkowski wrote:Noel, I got the story straight from the horse's mouth (both engineer and railfan).
Sounds good, Henry, I probably know both.
Noel Weaver

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