The Iron Horse (1924)

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    Information from IMDb

    Plot Summary
    Springfield, Illinois. Brandon, a surveyor, dreams of building a railway to the west, but Marsh, a contractor, is sceptical. Abraham Lincoln looks on as their children, Davy Brandon and Miriam Marsh, play together. Brandon sets off with Davy to survey a route. They discover a new pass which will shave 200 miles off the expected distance, but they are set upon by a party of Cheyenne. One of them, a white renegade with only two fingers on his right hand, kills Brandon and scalps him. Davy buries his father... Years pass. It is 1862 and Lincoln signs the bill authorizing construction of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways. Marsh is principal contractor and Miriam is engaged to Jesson, the chief engineer... Crews of Chinese, Italians, and Irish work to build the railway while resisting Indian attack. When the pay train is delayed by Indian ambush, the Italians go on strike. Miriam persuades them to return to work
    Written by David Steele

    Full Cast
    George O'Brien ... Davy Brandon
    Madge Bellamy ... Miriam Marsh
    Charles Edward Bull ... Abraham Lincoln
    Cyril Chadwick ... Peter Jesson
    Will Walling ... Thomas Marsh
    Francis Powers ... Sgt. Slattery
    J. Farrell MacDonald ... Cpl. Casey (as J. Farrell Macdonald)
    Jim Welch ... Pvt. Schultz (as James Welch)
    George Waggner ... Col. William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody (as George Wagner)
    Fred Kohler ... Bauman
    James A. Marcus ... Judge Jed Haller (as James Marcus)
    Gladys Hulette ... Ruby
    Jean Arthur ... Reporter (uncredited)
    Chief John Big Tree ... Cheyenne Chief (uncredited)
    Danny Borzage ... Minor Role (uncredited)
    George Brent ... Worker / Extra (uncredited)
    Milton Brown ... Minor Role (uncredited)
    Thomas Carr ... Rail Worker (uncredited)
    Peggy Cartwright ... Miriam as a Girl (uncredited)
    Colin Chase ... Tony - Italian Worker (uncredited)
    Harvey Clark ... Dentist-Barber (uncredited)
    Elmer Dewey ... Minor Role (uncredited)
    John Webb Dillon ... Tall Woodsman in Prologue (uncredited)
    Thomas Durant ... Jack Ganzhorn (uncredited)
    Bob Fleming ... Minor Role (uncredited)
    Willie Fung ... Chinaman (uncredited)
    Jack Ganzhorn ... Thomas C. Durant (uncredited)
    James Gordon ... David Brandon Sr (uncredited)
    Ed Jones ... Minor Role (uncredited)
    Tiny Jones ... Woman Who Wants a Divorce (uncredited)
    Sid Jordan ... Gunfighter (uncredited)
    Dick La Reno ... Minor Role (uncredited)
    Delbert Mann ... Charles Crocker (uncredited)
    Robert Milasch ... Hell on Wheels Bartender (uncredited)
    Winston Miller ... Davy as a Boy (uncredited)
    Pat Moriarity ... Rail Worker (uncredited)
    Charles Newton ... Collis P. Huntington (uncredited)
    Herman Nowlin ... Minor Role (uncredited)
    John B. O'Brien ... Dinny (uncredited)
    Charles O'Malley ... Maj. North (uncredited)
    Jack Padjan ... Wild Bill Hickok (uncredited)
    Edward Peil Sr. ... Old Chinese Railroad Worker (uncredited)
    Jack Richardson ... Union Officer at White House (uncredited)
    Vinegar Roan ... Bit Role (uncredited)
    Walter Rodgers ... Gen. Dodge (uncredited)
    Harold D. Schuster ... Minor Role (uncredited)
    Tom Smith ... Cowhand (uncredited)
    Chief White Spear ... Sioux Chief (uncredited)
    Charles Stevens ... Indian (uncredited)
    Frances Teague ... Polka Dot - Dance Hall Girl (uncredited)
    Stanhope Wheatcroft ... John Hay (uncredited)
    Leo Willis ... Gunman in Saloon (uncredited)
    Chief Eagle Wing ... Indian (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    Charles Kenyon (story) and
    John Russell (story)
    Charles Kenyon (scenario)
    Charles Darnton (titles)

    Original Music
    John Lanchbery (1994)
    William P. Perry (1974)
    Erno Rapee (uncredited)

    George Schneiderman

    The VHS version published in Argentina by "Epoca Video Ediciones" was lifted from an Italian video version that, in turn, was lifted from a Paul Killiam print with the titles (except the original credits) replaced with Italian translations. "Epoca Video Ediciones", subtitled that print in Spanish and made an important mistake that they have never corrected: the film was originally released in Argentina as "El caballo de hierro" but they put "El caballo de acero".

    During the title sequence before the film starts, a dedication is given to George Stephenson the father of the railway locomotive. Unfortunately it describes Stephenson as Scottish, when in fact he is an Englishman, born in Wylam Northumberland in 1781.

    During the filming of a climactic gun battle, which took several days to film, the cast and crew awoke to find that an unexpected snowfall had blanketed the set. The crew, and most of the cast, set to work clearing the large set of the fresh snow, and amazingly were able to do so in about an hour.

    When on location, the crew built a large town set in which many of the buildings had practical rooms. These rooms soon became living quarters, holding areas and storage space. The editing lab was set up in the post office set.

    The production had it's own bootlegger. While doing a run one night, said bootlegger allegedly hit somebody with his car and killed them.

    The kitchen staff for the film was made up largely of Chinese cooks. Some of them had been workers on the transcontinental railroad in 1869, the same construction project that forms the basis of this film.

    In the final scenes of the meeting of the West and East Railways, the director used the actual engines that did meet on that day.They were the Jupiter and Locomotive 116. This is mentioned in the film captions itself.

    This was the opening night film for the 15th San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2010.

    The locomotives and rolling stock are using knuckle-type couplers which did not begin wide use until the 1890's. In the 1860's era setting of this movie, the couplers in use would have been link and pin. This anachronism is understandable as the safety issue would have prohibited the use of the era appropriate link and pin couplers.

    The Central Pacific steam engine used in the sequence of the 10 mile day was a coal burner, evident by the straight pipe smokestack. All Central Pacific steam engines at the time were wood burners with a diamond stack or similar smokestack.

    Factual errors
    The Union Pacific steam engine at the Golden Spike ceremony was the UP119, not the UP116.

    A claim was made that the original Jupiter was used in the movie. After the Central Pacific Railroad was reorganized as the Southern Pacific, the steam engine was numbered SP1195, was converted to a coal burner and then sold to the Gila Valley, Globe & Northern Railroad in Arizona. Unfortunately, it was scrapped in 1906 for $1000, so it could not have been in this movie.

    Filming Locations
    Beale's Cut, Newhall, California, USA
    Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA
    Dodge Flat, Wadsworth, Nevada, USA
    Iverson Ranch - 1 Iverson Lane, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA
    Newhall, California, USA
    Truckee, California, USA (hauling locomotive up mountain)
    Wadsworth, Nevada, USA

    Watch the Movie



    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 17 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • The Iron Horse is a silent film directed by John Ford in 1924
    and produced by Fox Film.
    In 2011, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"
    by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation
    in the National Film Registry.

    The film presents an idealized image of the construction of the
    American first transcontinental railroad. It culminates with the scene of driving
    of the golden spike at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869.
    There is a note in the title before this scene that the two original locomotives
    from 1869 event are used in the film, although this is false - both engines
    (Union Pacific No. 119 and Jupiter) were scrapped before 1910.
    Of course, a romantic story with love, treachery and revenge is also here.
    Main stars were George O'Brien and Madge Bellamy.

    User Review

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 5 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Hi Keith

    I just watched this film twice! I watched the longer US version and the international version.

    Apart from doing so trying to spot JW, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

    I would certainly watch it again and I do not often say this about silent films!

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind

  • Hi

    I agree it is a good film, and one in which Ford reverts back to in a number of ways some of the music he repeats in later films.

    At the time O'Brien was Ford's best friend and they were inseparable Ford often going on vacation with O'Brian and leaving his wife at home. Eventually the two owing to Ford's nature, had to fall out and true to Ford's nature I doubt if they worked together again or at least for many years.

    It is for this reason that I doubt if John Ford had much time for the emergent John Wayne until much later.



    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • John Ford cursed with genius so no time for people skills

    now if only I can remember where I read that

    being a non genius cursed with alka saltzer LOL

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind

  • Hi

    The Iron Horse was filmed mainly on location and in conditions of extreme hardship.
    Ford took O'Brien from obscurity and cast him in the lead role they became firm friends and it was O'Brien who began calling Ford Coach.

    The conditions were so extreme that if Wayne had played any part in the film I think he would have mentioned it in later conversations.



    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • Keith,

    This is forum continually reminds me of just how much I've got to get round to watching!
    This is another one I have sat on a shelf unopened!
    I need to break a toe so I can be laid up for a week or so and get some serious watching in!

    "Pour yourself some backbone and shut up!"

  • Just an update, on the work the forum is making in
    The John Ford Forum.

    One of the truly great classic silents

    Please take a look at the many profiles of these
    priceless movies, currently bring profiled

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().