7.3/10
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84 user 40 critic

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

A group of bandits stage a brazen train hold-up, only to find a determined posse hot on their heels.

Director:

(uncredited)
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Cast

Uncredited cast:
A.C. Abadie ...
Sheriff (uncredited)
...
Bandit / Shot Passenger / Tenderfoot Dancer (uncredited)
...
(uncredited)
...
Walter Cameron ...
Sheriff (uncredited)
John Manus Dougherty Sr. ...
Fourth Bandit (uncredited)
...
Little Boy (uncredited)
Shadrack E. Graham ...
Child (uncredited)
Frank Hanaway ...
Bandit (uncredited)
Adam Charles Hayman ...
Bandit (uncredited)
Morgan Jones ...
(uncredited)
...
Locomotive Engineer (uncredited)
...
Trainman / Bandit (uncredited)
Marie Murray ...
Dance-Hall Dancer (uncredited)
Mary Snow ...
Little Girl (uncredited)
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Storyline

Among the earliest existing films in American cinema - notable as an early film to present a narrative story to tell - it depicts a group of cowboy outlaws who hold up a train and rob the passengers. They are then pursued by a Sheriff's posse. Several scenes have color included - all hand tinted. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Action | Western

Certificate:

TV-G

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

December 1903 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le vol du grand rapide  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$150 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(hand-colored)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was originally distributed with a note saying that the famous shot of the bandit firing his gun at the camera could be placed either at the beginning or at the end of the film. All known prints put it at the end. See more »

Goofs

Looking closely, you can see that every time a gun is used, it is pointed away from the person/camera. This might be regarded as a revealing mistake, but this is done for 2 reasons. The first being that film was in its early stages, so they didn't think the audience could see the tilted guns. Reason 2 being that blank cartridges for pistols weren't invented/widely used at the time, so they had to use real bullets. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: The Helter Skelter Murders (2012) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Film Editing Is Born
3 January 2006 | by See all my reviews

It's hard to assign "The Great Train Robbery" a rating, as it shouldn't really be watched as a film the way we watch films now. But from a historical perspective, it's fascinating, and is an excellent example of the use of film editing, an art form then in its infancy and now an award category recognized every year at the Oscars.

Before this movie, it wasn't customary to tell multiple story lines simultaneously, but here, various activities going on in different locations are intercut to create suspense. D.W. Griffith would use this technique much more ambitiously (and combine it with many other developing film techniques) in "The Birth of a Nation" over ten years later, but credit must be given to "Train Robbery" for blazing a trail.

Also, this is the movie famous for the shot of an outlaw shooting a gun directly at the camera. I can't imagine what effect this had on audiences at the time, who were probably diving behind their chairs for cover.

Grade: A


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