IMDb > The Iron Horse (1924)
The Iron Horse
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The Iron Horse (1924) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.3/10   1,191 votes »
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MOVIEmeter: ?
Down 18% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
Charles Kenyon (story) and
John Russell (story) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Iron Horse on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1925 (Germany) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
THE WEDDING OF THE RAILS! ONE OF AMERICA'S MOST THRILLING HISTORICAL DEEDS--THE DRIVING OF THE LAST SPIKE FOR THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD (original ad - all caps) See more »
Plot:
Springfield, Illinois. Brandon, a surveyor, dreams of building a railway to the west, but Marsh, a contractor... See more » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
1 win See more »
NewsDesk:
(29 articles)
Our Daily Bread #6
 (From MUBI. 13 May 2014, 1:23 AM, PDT)

Top 10 movie westerns
 (From The Guardian - Film News. 8 November 2013, 8:21 AM, PST)

Killruddery Film Festival–A Festival with a difference
 (From TheMovieBit. 24 September 2013, 9:46 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
"By superhuman effort and undaunted courage" See more (24 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

George O'Brien ... Dave Brandon

Madge Bellamy ... Miriam Marsh
Charles Edward Bull ... Lincoln
Cyril Chadwick ... Jesson
Will Walling ... Thomas Marsh
Francis Powers ... Sergeant Slattery
J. Farrell MacDonald ... Corporal Casey (as J. Farrell Macdonald)
Jim Welch ... Private Mackay (as James Welch)
George Waggner ... Buffalo Bill (as George Wagner)
Fred Kohler ... Bauman
James A. Marcus ... Judge Haller (as James Marcus)

Gladys Hulette ... Ruby
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

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)

Directed by
John Ford (uncredited)
 
Writing credits
Charles Kenyon (story) and
John Russell (story)

Charles Kenyon (scenario)

Charles Darnton (titles)

Produced by
Kevin Brownlow .... producer (1995 version)
David Gill .... producer (1995 version)
Patrick Stanbury .... executive producer (1995 version)
John Ford .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
John Lanchbery (1995)
William P. Perry (1974)
Erno Rapee (1924) (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
George Schneiderman (photography)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Edward O'Fearna .... assistant director (uncredited)
Frank Powolny .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
William S. Darling .... art department supervisor (uncredited)
Lefty Hough .... property master (uncredited)
R.L. Hough .... props (uncredited)
Herbert Plews .... assistant props (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Burnett Guffey .... additional photographer (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Nick Adams .... telecine engineer (1995 version)
Martin Gent .... on-line editor (1995 version)
Harold D. Schuster .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
John Lanchbery .... orchestrator (1974 re-release)
 
Other crew
William Fox .... presents
Karl Malkames .... restorator (1974 re-release)
Harold D. Schuster .... production assistant (uncredited)
 
Thanks
George Stephenson .... dedication: to the honour and memory of the Scottish engineer
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
150 min | 133 min (TCM print)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Sweden:15 | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:TV-G (TV rating)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
This was the opening night film for the 15th San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2010.See more »
Goofs:
Factual errors: The Union Pacific steam engine at the Golden Spike ceremony was the UP119, not the UP116.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in An Opera of Violence (2003) (V)See more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
"By superhuman effort and undaunted courage", 22 December 2008
Author: Steffi_P from Ruritania

In the mid-1920s cinema saw the second coming of the epic, the first having been in the mid-1910s, and giants of the era such as Douglas Fairbanks and Cecil B. DeMille were continually upping the ante on each other with bigger and bigger pictures. Meanwhile the Western had been in gradual development, and by now it was only logical that this ever-popular genre was itself given a massiveness makeover. Paramount had the first stab with The Covered Wagon in 1923, and the following year Fox responded with The Iron Horse.

The Western itself of course went through many developments in theme, and can be grouped into different phases. The Iron Horse, along with Covered Wagon, Three Bad Men (1926) and The Big Trail (1930) belongs squarely to the "pioneer" Westerns which dominate this era. In these pictures the west would typically be an unclaimed wilderness, and the heroes were those who explored, settled and developed it. By now the genuine old west was fading from living memory, and so now we had the first generation for whom it could be a romanticised piece of history. Plus of course there is the fact that the wagon trails, railroads and cattle drives of the pioneer Western were ideal for the aforementioned fashion for epic pictures.

Today of course The Iron Horse is best remembered for its director – a young John Ford. Even back then Ford had a close association with the Western, although to some extent his style is still in development here. His shot composition relies heavily on very distinctive framing devices such as tree branches or posts, and sometimes the shots look a little cluttered. Also, his approach to the romantic love scenes is entirely conventional – with close-ups, rhyming angles and sparse backgrounds so as to focus on the actors. The older (more cynical?) John Ford tended to shoot these moments rather flatly, the camera hanging back, and even throwing in distracting background business.

On the other hand, and perhaps in ways that matter more, this is very much the same John Ford of Stagecoach, Fort Apache and so forth. In particular is his vision of the west. Right from the opening scenes he contrasts the smallness of the homestead with the romantic allure of the wilderness – framing the actors tightly in the opening shots, and then cutting to point-of-view shots of the trail. He always captures the vastness of the outdoors, and yet without ever dwarfing the people in it. Particularly impressive (and this is perhaps where Ford's greatest strength lay) is his ability to combine different storytelling elements in a single shot – for example at one point we see a mother mourn her son at his grave in the foreground, while a heavily loaded train passes through in the background.

Another typically Fordian element is the precedence he gives to the comic relief characters. On location they were largely working without a script, so Ford could spin their scenes out as long as he wanted. As with many of his later pictures, charming though it is, the comedy business threatens to unbalance the real story. We can also see in "Drill ye terriers" a forerunner to the group singsong that is a staple of even the earliest John Ford talkies.

A nod to the actors is also due. This was George O'Brien's first lead role and he doesn't do badly, considering he got the part mainly for being a good-looking newcomer who could ride a horse. He doesn't emote too convincingly, but he moves well which is the most important thing for a picture like this. The other standout is J. Farrell MacDonald, who played the kind of roles for Ford in the silent era that would later be filled by Victor McLaglan in the talkies – basically a comical Irish drunk. But like McLaglan he hid real dramatic talent under the act, and he emerges as the most genuine player in this piece.

Ford's confidence and passion for the genre make the Iron Horse a classic, but it's worth remembering that The Iron Horse is also a triumph of post-production. Cast and crew had gone on location without a complete shooting script and large chunks of it are more or less improvised. As well as directing Ford took one of his earliest credits of producer and, would thus have been able to continue supervising the product after shooting was over. It's hard to imagine what any other producer or editor would have made of the footage he brought back from location. It's unlikely they would have kept so much of the comic diversions and "oirishness", and it's perhaps with The Iron Horse that we have - for better or for worse - the earliest example of an unbridled John Ford.

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