The Iron Horse (film)
|The Iron Horse|
|Directed by||John Ford (uncredited)|
|Produced by||John Ford|
|Written by||Charles Kenyon
|Editing by||Hettie Gray Baker|
|Distributed by||Fox Film Corporation|
|Running time||133 minutes|
The Iron Horse is a 1924 American silent film directed by John Ford 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.
Ford directed this epic-scale silent western, which was one of his first major successes and was hugely influential on outdoor films that followed. David Brandon (James Gordon) is a surveyor in the Old West who dreams that one day the entire North American continent will be linked by railroads. However, to make this dream a reality, a clear trail must be found through the Rocky Mountains. With his boy Davy (Winston Miller), David sets out to find such a path, but he's ambushed by a tribe of Indians led by a white savage, Peter Jesson (Cyril Chadwick); while the boy manages to escape, David is killed. Years later, the adult Davy Brandon (George O'Brien) still believes in his father's dream of a transcontinental railroad, and legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln (Charles Edward Bull) has made it an official mandate. Davy is hired on as a railroad surveyor by Thomas Marsh (Will R. Walling), the father of his childhood sweetheart Miriam (Madge Bellamy). While Davy hopes to win Miriam's heart as he helps to find the trail that led to his father's death years ago, he's disappointed to discover that Miriam is already married -- and shocked to discover her husband is Peter Jesson, now working with the railroad as a civil engineer. As the Union Pacific crew presses on to their historic meeting at Promitory Point, Davy must find a way to earn Miriam's love and uncover Peter's murderous past. Shot on location in Arizona in Ford's beloved Monument Valley, The Iron Horse was a massive production that employed over 6,000 people; two temporary cities were built to accommodate them, with 100 cooks on hand to serve meals. Main stars were George O'Brien and Madge Bellamy.
- 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
- Jim Welch - Pvt. Schultz (as James Welch)
- George Waggner - Col. William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody
- Fred Kohler - Bauman
- James A. Marcus - Judge Haller (as James Marcus)
- Gladys Hulette - Ruby
- Chief John Big Tree - Cheyenne Chief (uncredited)
- Foreground - dog(black & white canine who strolled through many scenes(from property man Lefty Hough; interviewed in Hollywood 1980
In December 2011, The Iron Horse was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry. In choosing the film, the Registry said that The Iron Horse "introduced to American and world audiences a reverential, elegiac mythology that has influenced many subsequent Westerns."
Home media 
The film is currently available on DVD in America in its full-length US version (accompanied by the truncated UK version). A forthcoming September 2011 release of The Iron Horse on DVD in the UK from The Masters of Cinema Series will include both the US and UK versions of the picture, and a half-hour video-essay about the film by author and critic Tag Gallagher.
See also 
- "Progressive Silent Film List: The Iron Horse". Silent Era. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- "2011 National Film Registry More Than a Box of Chocolates". Library of Congress. December 28, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2011.