The Great Locomotive Chase

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For the historical event that inspired the film, see Great Locomotive Chase.
The Great Locomotive Chase
The poster of the movie The Great Locomotive Chase.jpg
Directed by Francis D. Lyon
Produced by Lawrence Edward Watkin
Written by Lawrence Edward Watkin
Starring Fess Parker
Jeffrey Hunter
John Lupton
Stan Jones
Slim Pickens
Music by Paul J. Smith
Production
company
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • June 8, 1956 (1956-06-08)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.7 million (US)[1]

The Great Locomotive Chase is a 1956 Walt Disney Productions CinemaScope adventure film based on the real Great Locomotive Chase that occurred in 1862 during the American Civil War. The film stars Fess Parker as James J. Andrews, the leader of a group of Union soldiers from various Ohio regiments who volunteered to go behind Confederate lines in civilian clothes, steal a Confederate train north of Atlanta, and drive it back to Union lines in Tennessee, tearing up railroad tracks and destroying bridges and telegraph lines along the way.

Written and produced by Lawrence Edward Watkin and directed by Francis D. Lyon, the 85-minute full-color film also features Jeffrey Hunter, John Lupton, Kenneth Tobey, Don Megowan, and Slim Pickens. Paul J. Smith composed the score. Filmed in Georgia and North Carolina, along the now abandoned Tallulah Falls Railway, it was released in U.S. theaters by Buena Vista Distribution Company on June 8, 1956, and capitalized on Parker's growing fame as an actor from his portrayal of Davy Crockett. The film reteamed him with Jeff York (Mike Fink). This is Walt Disney's eighth live-action film.

The steam engine upon whose exploits the film is based, the "General", is preserved at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia. Representing the "General" in the film is American-type steam engine No. 25 ("William Mason"), built in 1856 and preserved in operating condition at the B&O Railroad Museum.[2]

The final locomotive used by Conductor Fuller and the pursuers, the "Texas", has been restored and is on display at Grant Park in Atlanta, also home to the Cyclorama mural painting of the Battle of Atlanta. In the film, "Texas" is represented by the similar Inyo, which is now preserved in working order at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

Buster Keaton's 1926 feature film The General was based upon the same Civil War incident, though Keaton only loosely based his film on actual events, and made it a comedy, not a drama.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews upon its release. Though given acceptable reviews by most critics, the film was not as successful as Walt Disney had hoped it would be. This may have been due to the film's primary focus on retelling a historic event as opposed to an entertaining film for movie goers, lacking in romance or otherwise entertainment for the typical Hollywood demographic. Moreover, some felt the film to be rather depressing or downbeat since the main characters are unsuccessful in their mission and some, including the lead character, wind up being executed.[3] The film currently holds a rating of 7.1 on the Internet Movie Database based on 499 votes.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD twice, first by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2000, and by Disney in 2004, but these DVDs have been seldom advertised, as well as being rather "bare bone" releases (not having any bonus material, etc.), and have not been released outside of the United States. All these releases have been mastered from the 16:9 non-anamorphic widescreen masters created in the late-1980s for the Laserdisc release.

Songs[edit]

(in film sequence)

  1. "Dixie"—sung by Fess Parker, et al.
  2. "A Rebel I Will Be Until I Died"—sung by Fess Parker, et al.
  3. "Sons of Old Aunt Dinah" - lyrics by Lawrence Edward Watkin and music by Stan Jones.
  4. "I Stole A Locomotive Just to Take a Ride 'Cause My Daddy Was A Railroading Man"—sung by Fess Parker, et al.
  5. "Roll Jordan Roll, I Want To Go To Heaven When I Die"—sung by Fess Parker, et al.
  6. "Tenting On the Old Camp Ground"—classic Civil War hymn sung by Fess Parker, Jeff York, John Lupton, et al.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  2. ^ Railroad Movies on DVD
  3. ^ Bogle, James G, and Cohen, Stan. (1999). The General & The Texas: A Pictorial History of the Andrews Raid, April 12, 1862. 

External links[edit]