A group of bandits stage a brazen train hold-up, only to find a determined posse hot on their heels.A group of bandits stage a brazen train hold-up, only to find a determined posse hot on their heels.A group of bandits stage a brazen train hold-up, only to find a determined posse hot on their heels.
It is a western, of course (shot in the wilds of New Jersey). A gang of bad guys knock out a train station clerk then board a departing train. They move to the car where there is a safe, blow the safe, stop the train and rob the passengers. Back in town, the clerk revives and tries to get help but passes out again. A little girl comes in wakes him up. The townspeople are having a dance when the clerk runs in to form a posse. The posse rides out and surrounds the gang, who is counting the loot in the woods. There is a gunfight and the robbers are killed. That is the whole story, but there is one short scene left - one of the most remarkable in film history. The all color episode lasts about 5 seconds. In medium close-up, a cowboy raises his pistol, points it directly at the camera, and fires three times. It is difficult for us to understand why this is here or what purpose it served. But when people who had never seen a movie before and didn't have any understanding of the technology first saw this man shooting at them, they screamed, fell to the floor, and ran for the door. It is also said that some in the audience pulled firearms and shot back. It is an early testament to the power that motion pictures had, even in its earliest incarnation. Thankfully, TCM ran TGTR without any modern musical accompaniment, as thousands must have seen it in the nineteen-aughts. I watched in total amazement. I was transported. Later, I reflected on how far movies had come and how little they had changed in the last 100 years. This movie is a priceless historical artifact that shows us just how much the past is still with us.
- Mar 6, 2003