Millionaire John Morgan rides his personal train to pick up his daughter, Mrs. Arthur Standish, and her child, Alice, to take them on a trip away from the son-in-law, Arthur. On the way Morgan and the train are kidnapped by order of Arthur so that he may attempt to reunite with his wife. After a complicated chase, Arthur meets his wife and they are reconciled. They then reach Morgan and explain the situation to him after which all are on good terms once more. Written by
exciting silent "railroad action" film, starring Helen Holmes, queen of this sub-genre
I see that a film also titled THE LOST EXPRESS that also starred Helen Holmes and was directed by J.P.McGowan was released in 1917; however, based on the plot summary of that film, the 1926 feature that I'm reviewing is NOT a remake in any way. During the teens, Helen Holmes was a star of serials in the Pearl White/Perils of Pauline vein, having a series called THE HAZARDS OF HELEN. She made a number of "railroad action" films during her starring period, which ended in the late 1920's. When this film was made in 1926, we should remember that she would have been well-known to movie audiences and they would expect a railroad element and some exciting chases utilizing cars and trains as much as modern audiences would expect Fred Astaire to dance or Chuck Norris to engage in martial arts. This is a mature Ms. Holmes in THE LOST EXPRESS of 1926, so her physical stunts are kept to a minimum, although to satisfy the fans she does jump from a moving car onto a moving train. The exciting plot involves the theft of a rail car that is carrying the head of the railroad company, his wimpy assistant, and a Black porter. The railroad czar was planning on taking his grand daughter from his daughter, who had separated from her husband. These three are held hostage by some gun-toting crooks. At the same time, the daughter goes missing, the separated spouses argue and both try to take the girl, and the train is actually "lost" for a period. Miss Holmes plays a railroad company employee, working at a local station, who comes to the aid of the family and helps to find them, locate and take care of the grand child, and eventually capture the crooks. It's easy to see why these films were popular--this one provides action, an element of mystery to the plot, thrilling stunts (though the ones in this film don't compare with those in, say, a Richard Talmadge film), some light humor, and a dependable star who has a certain "average person" quality about her. Director J. P. McGowan, who directed Miss Holmes for many years and was her husband until around the time of this film, is well-known to me for his many low-budget westerns, as both actor and director. He was also executive secretary of the Screen Director's Guild for a period. There are sixteen films playing at my local multiplex that each cost tens of millions to make, if not more, and feature CGI effects and sound design as complex as a symphony, yet I'm sure that fifteen of the sixteen do not pack as much entertainment into them as this low-budget silent action-adventure does.
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