IMDb > The Iron Horse (1924)
The Iron Horse
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

The Iron Horse (1924) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 4 | slideshow)

Overview

User Rating:
7.3/10   1,112 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
MOVIEmeter: ?
Down 5% 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:
One of the great, early Westerns, still recommendable. 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)
Create a character page for: ?

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


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
Create a character page for: ?

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:
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.See more »
Goofs:
Factual errors: 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.See more »
Movie Connections:

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
20 out of 24 people found the following review useful.
One of the great, early Westerns, still recommendable., 3 August 2002
Author: FilmFlaneur from London

The Iron Horse was both Ford's 50th film and one of the most important silent Westerns. Until the 29-year-old director came to work on this epic project, he had gradually built up an expertise and standing with a number of smaller productions, many of them oaters, few of which survive today. This 1924 film consolidated his talent and gave him a creative reputation which lasted until he was deemed 'old fashioned' at the start of 1950s.

It's a story that characteristically combines the grand with the intimate, through a celebration of the coming of progress. The Iron Horse's narrative covers such issues as the Civil War, Lincoln's presidency, the Indian wars, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, ethnic relationships, cattle trailing and railway history in a span of little over two hours - all with an absence of narrative strain still impressive today. Ford's skill in marshalling many disparate elements into one large canvas, successfully orchestrating history (proudly announced here as 'accurate and faithful in every particular') is one example why he was such an exemplary Western director.

George O'Brien plays Davy Brandon, whose father dreams of rails eventually crossing the continent. After setting out for the west, Brandon senior is killed by the evil Two Fingers (Fred Kohler). Years later Davy sets to work for Union Pacific, scouting for a short cut through Cheyenne territory that will ensure the success of the transcontinental link up. Aiming to prevent this are the dastardly forces of corrupt surveyor Jesson (Peter Chadwick) and half-breed Baumann (Kohler). Meanwhile, Davy discovers his childhood sweetheart Miriam (Madge Bellamy) is engaged to the disreputable Jesson. The rest, as they say, is history.

Throughout Ford's career he was wont to use symbols to indicate the coming of progress in the West. In My Darling Clementine (1946) it was the social dance at the unfinished church. In Liberty Valance (1964) the desert flowers on Tom Doniphon's (Wayne's) coffin. The Iron Horse is dedicated to George Stevenson and, not unexpectedly, here it is the railway itself that represents the growth of civilisation. Its ultimate success as an enterprise is less that of a profitable commercial venture than of beneficial ideal, as visualised by President Lincoln.

Amidst the idealism of railway expansion, Ford includes the broad comedy common to many of his films - the Irish and Italian labourers continuing a friendly rivalry. Their work songs, spelt out in caption cards while they construct the track, punctuate the action, creating convenient breathing spaces between more dramatic scenes. The 'three musketeers' - as Slattery (Francis Powers) Casey (Farrell Macdonald) and Schultz (Jim Welch) are called - have their own amusing scenes based around some frontier dentistry. But essentially they function as a kind of comic chorus, their earthy, ethnic interjections keeping the film's idealism down to earth. There's an element of this too in Judge Haller (James Marcus), a Roy Bean character, whose dispensation of frontier justice is as arbitrary as it is often inspired.

Least convincing to the modern viewer is the character of Miriam, whose simpering virginity comes closest to the two-dimensional women found often in the world of D.W. Griffith's melodramas. Her condemnation of the clean living Davy's visit to the saloon, immediately after being with her (where, ironically, he has gone to patch things up with Jesson) seems almost wilfully annoying; ludicrous even, given the rough environment in which she finds herself. But that her heart belongs to the muscular scout is never in doubt, a fact made clear by their rapport in the opening scenes set in their childhood. In addition, once she has gained womanhood, her pending relationship with Jesson is condemned by implication as President Lincoln looks askance at their match. The same dramatic shorthand is employed through the palpable tension when Davy and Baumann first meet, an impending confrontation telegraphed as sharply as any message sent by mechanical means.

There is also a intense psychological antipathy between Davy and Jesson, notably in the standout barroom scene. In these moments O'Brien plays well, almost making one forget Ford's great films with Wayne to come. But, by necessity, this is principally a film of the great outdoors where Ford excels in portraying man battling against external obstacles, rather than facing internal stress. In his Stagecoach (1938), which was to later revitalise the genre, it would be a different story, one of comparative intimacy. Here, the heroes and villains who react together along the railroad work out their differences in the open air with grand gestures, fisticuffs and work songs, rather than anguished conversation. And it is these epic scenes that remain in the mind when the film is done. The attack of the Indians on the supply train, their furious shadows thrown against the sides of the carriages; the snow swept work camps; the many panoramas of frontier life; Davy and Bauman's final conflict in the sleeper 'house'; the final meeting at Promontory Point for the 'wedding of the rails', and so on.

Such visual grandness does not preclude economy however. One only has to think of hurriedly arranged burial of 'the old soak' and the marriage held at North Platte, or the establishing scenes at the beginning of the film, to see how Ford was fully in command of his material, switching scale and focus with ease.

With the joining of the two railroads and the closing of the bond between Miriam and Davy, there is a natural conclusion to both the human, and the mechanical elements of the story - Davy actually waits until the final spike has been driven home before committing himself to her side. Thematically, Fritz Lang was to acknowledge a debt to Ford's classic in his Western Union (1938), which has a related story, but his film is the slighter of the two and less innocent. Ford's epic remains the definitive telling of these particular events and its authenticity can still be recommended today.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (24 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Iron Horse (1924)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Two Versions? auntijoan1
What locomotives were used in this film? kkcowgirl
Indians to the rescue WindyCaliGirl
See more »

Recommendations

If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
How the West Was Won The Phantom Rider Gone with the Wind The Painted Stallion Ghost of Zorro
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Western section IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.