In 1830, a train known as the Iron Mule is loaded with passengers, and starts off on its trip. Along the way, the train faces numerous obstacles and delays. The engineer is prepared for ...
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Elmer Doolittle,a hired hand on a farm,encounters some complications in his romancing and believes he will have to marry the farm-owner aunt of Molly, the pretty girl he loves. Further ... See full summary »
In 1830, a train known as the Iron Mule is loaded with passengers, and starts off on its trip. Along the way, the train faces numerous obstacles and delays. The engineer is prepared for most of them, but the real challenges come when the train is ambushed by Indians.Written by
ALTERNATE TITLES: The Iron Mule, Fatty's Iron Mule. Of the film's pun loaded captions, the title card reads, "The Twenty Cent Limited". The first "joke" card on screen says, "The Iron Mule has made the trip twice before – once on time, and once on the track." Last card of the film reads, "To less romantic hearts, The Iron Mule seemed a soulless monster but these brave people found her tender." Versions available for internet viewing vary in length from 10 to 19 minutes. Low mentality sounds (voices, music) are added in some versions, together with burlesque comic drum punctuations for most of the pratfalls. An excellent quality Blue Ray edition of "Our Hospitality" with "The Iron Mule" as an extra is available. One film version (which edits out the introductory footage, leaving out the boarding station name - a real hoot) starts with Keaton's replica of Stephenson's Rocket being loaded, conductor punching a ticket, then falling off the last car when the train jerks forward on starting. With no limit to the pratfalls, the trip starts from a sparsely settled rural area. Approaching a tunnel, the engineer pulls off the smoke pipe, and runs up the hill with it, as the smoke pipe slot feature of the tunnel from "Our Hospitality" (train and tunnel on loan) has been (badly) hidden with fake-looking grass. The engineer's daring do (his hair color changes from blond to dark, sort of like Keaton's) is notable as he dashes downhill with the heavy smoke pipe, and manages miraculously to hop back aboard and put the pipe back on. This film's water challenge is next.The passengers and crew cleverly manage to float the entire train - - smoke and steam billowing off the engine, and it heads downriver. The clever train moves powerfully across the river, rowed solely by the engineer, steered back onto the tracks again by the conductor at the back end. At her first stop returning to dry land, a major to-do causes plenty of hub-bub and consternation. A new passenger tied his horse onto the last car, and the horse balks. Celebrity note: "Buster and Natalie" (Keaton and Talmadge) seem to still be sitting in that car, too. Lots of new pratfalls, following which the train "escapes" from the distracted passengers and crew. A Mack Sennettesque chase sequence follows, loaded with pratfalls and more homages to "Our Hospitality". A band of troublesome native-Americans build a barricade on the track ahead. The train colliding with it is yet another opportunity for – what else – pratfalls. The climactic battle between Indians and train people is a boundless feast of terrific slapstick and some great sight gags. The scalping scene is right out of Mel Brooks. Ends with a truly unexpected – and unlikely – patriotic tableau. Summary: Mack Sennett meets the team of Arbuckle and Keaton.
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