The Iron Horse (1924)

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    There are 9 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by ethanedwards.

    • The Iron Horse (1924)




      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

      The post was edited 17 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Re: John Ford- The Iron Horse (1924)

      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

      8 October 2005 | by lugonian (Kissimmee, Florida)

      THE IRON HORSE (Fox, 1924), directed by John Ford, is an story set during the middle of the 19th century America about the building of the first Transcontinental Railroad. One of the very best examples of a lavish scale western produced during the silent era, said to be the answer to Paramount's earlier production of THE COVERED WAGON (1923), but most importantly, the first major project for Ford after nearly a decade in the director's chair to now gain the recognition he truly deserves.

      The story opens with a prologue set in Springfield, Ill., 1853, revolving around Davy Brandon, first as a youngster (Winston Miller) with deep affection towards Miriam Marsh (Peggy Cartwright), his childhood sweetheart. Davy's father (James Gordon) is a surveyor who dreams about the crossing of the western wilderness, while Miriam's father, Thomas Marsh (William Walling), is a skeptic. However, one of the citizens, Abraham Lincoln (Charles Edward Bull), believes in this man's theory and knows he'll accomplish his means. Setting out to accompany his father on a mission to survey an appropriate route through the mountains for the coming railroad, Davy bids a tearful farewell to Miriam. During their westward journey, Davy, who is hidden away because of foreseen danger, witnesses the brutal killing of his father by a white man dressed up as an Indian whose only identification if the loss of a thumb and two fingers on his right hand. After burying his father, Davy is taken in by a passing scouting party. A decade later, 1862, Abraham Lincoln is president of the United States; Davy (George O'Brien) is a Pony Express rider out to fulfill his father's dream leading into the building of the Transcontinental Railroad; and Miriam (Madge Bellamy), now engaged to Peter Jesson (Cyril Chadwick), an Eastern surveyor working for her father actually working for Deroux (Fred Kohler), the richest landowner, who stands to profit if the railroad goes through instead of through the pass. After being reunited with Miriam, Jesson finds himself in stiff competition. The two men become bitter enemies, especially after Jesson's attempts in doing away with him. Matters become complex until the golden spike gets hammered into the rail on that historic day of 1869 as east meets west through the continental railroad.

      In the supporting cast are Gladys Hulett (Ruby); Jack O'Brien (Dinny); three musketeer pals of J. Farrell MacDonald (Corporal Casey); Francis Powers (Sergeant Slattery); and James Welch (Private Schultz), as well as historical figures of Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickock and John Hay enacted by George Wagner, John Padjan and Stanhope Wheatcroft.

      THE IRON HORSE (title indicating the locomotive train) plays like a D.W. Griffith production with prologue, historical figures, flashbacks and epilogue, and like a screen adaptation to an Edna Ferber novel telling its story through the passage of time, along with soap-opera ingredients (complicated love triangle), but no usual conclusions of central characters going through the white hair and wrinkles aging process. Overall, this is John Ford's storytelling, cliché as it may be, placing fictional characters against historic setting, along with the oft-told murder-mystery subplot of a son out to avenge his father's killer, a historical movie that's become an important part of cinema history. Ford, the future four time Academy Award winning director, with a handful of motion pictures to his credit, best known for westerns, would provide similar themes in his future film-making. As popular as THE IRON HORSE was back in 1924, it's amazing that Ford didn't attempt doing a remake, especially in 1939 when westerns reached it peak of popularity. It took Cecil B. DeMille to attempt a similar story with UNION PACIFIC (Paramount, 1939) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea. Like THE IRON HORSE, UNION PACIFIC, which tells its story in over two hours, features villains, Indian massacres and thousands of extras.

      George O'Brien, a rugged actor, was an ideal choice for the role of Davy Brandon. Although he worked under Ford's direction numerous times in latter years, and showed his capability as a dramatic actor in F.W. Murnau's SUNRISE (1927), he never achieved major stardom. He did work steadily mostly in "B" westerns through the early 1950s. Co-star Madge Bellamy offers her typical heroine performance, caught between two men who vie for her affection, but is far from being a strong character. While the acting overall is satisfactory, from today's viewpoint, some heavy melodramatics as the method of fainting by youngster Davy after witnessing his father's massacre, or Bellamy's performance in general, might provoke some laughter. Scenes such as these can be overlooked by great location scenery as Monument Valley, a race against time and action scenes typically found in Ford westerns.

      Television history to THE IRON HORSE began when it became one of the movies from the Paul Killiam collection to air on public television's 13-week series of "The Silent Years" (June-September 1975), hosted by Lillian Gish. In her profile about THE IRON HORSE (accompanied by an excellent piano score by William Perry), Gish talks about its location shooting in the Nevada desert, the use of 100 cooks to feed the huge cast, and 5,000 extras consisting of 3,000 railway workers, 1,000 Chinese laborers, many horses and steers. Decades later, THE IRON HORSE made it to the American Movie Classics (1997-1999) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere December 9, 2007 ) accompanied by orchestral score with 15 minutes of additional footage as opposed to the 119 minutes presented on both "The Silent Years," and the Western Channel in 2001. Distributed to home video Critic's Choice in 1997, availability on DVD came a decade later.

      THE IRON HORSE may not be historically accurate as promised through its opening inter-titles, but it's sure an ambitious John Ford production to still be entertaining today. (****)
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 5 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Re: John Ford- The Iron Horse (1924)

      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
    • Re: John Ford- The Iron Horse (1924)


      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
    • Re: John Ford- The Iron Horse (1924)

      arthurarnell wrote:


      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.



      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
    • Re: John Ford- The Iron Horse (1924)


      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
    • 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

      The post was edited 1 time, last by ethanedwards ().