Iron Horse

The Iron Horse

Director: John Ford

Cast: John Ford, Winston Miller, George O'Brien, Madge Bellamy

     
 

John Ford directed this epic-scale silent western, which was one of his first major successes and was hugely influential on outdoor films that followed. David Brandon (James Gordon) is a surveyor in the Old West who dreams that one day the entire North American continent will be linked by railroads. However, to make this dream a reality, a clear trail must be found…  See more details below

Overview

John Ford directed this epic-scale silent western, which was one of his first major successes and was hugely influential on outdoor films that followed. David Brandon (James Gordon) is a surveyor in the Old West who dreams that one day the entire North American continent will be linked by railroads. However, to make this dream a reality, a clear trail must be found through the Rocky Mountains. With his boy Davy (Winston Miller), David sets out to find such a path, but he's ambushed by a tribe of Indians led by a white savage, Deroux (Fred Kohler); while the boy manages to escape, David is killed. Years later, the adult Davy Brandon (George O'Brien) still believes in his father's dream of a transcontinental railroad, and legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln has made it an official mandate. Davy is hired on as a railroad surveyor by Thomas Marsh (Will R. Walling), the father of his childhood sweetheart Miriam (Madge Bellamy). While Davy hopes to win Miriam's heart as he helps to find the trail that led to his father's death years ago, he's disappointed to discover that Miriam is already engaged to Peter Jesson (Cyril Chadwick), a civil engineer and Marsh's right-hand man. As the Union Pacific crew presses on to their historic meeting at Promontory Point, Jesson swears loyalty to Deroux, and makes an attempt on Davy's life. Later, after Davy gains the upper-hand, a Cheyenne raid leads to a shocking revelation about that fateful night when he watched his father die. Shot on location in Arizona in Ford's beloved Monument Valley, The Iron Horse was a massive production that employed over 6,000 people; two temporary cities were built to accommodate them, with 100 cooks on hand to serve meals.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Hans J. Wollstein
One of the great silent screen epics, John Ford's The Iron Horse, about the building of the transcontinental railroad, still packs a wallop today. In fact, there is almost too much of everything: Brave men fighting for the right of settlers to settle despite never-ending Indian attacks; nasty landowners attempting to misdirect the railroad for their own financial gain; more Indian attacks; quaint Irish characters singing quaint Irish songs when not battling the elements and each other; and still more Indian attacks. All of it filmed with John Ford's legendary feel for the land and its people. And in true Ford style, none of the grandeur is allowed to overshadow the human elements. Only in a Ford film will a fallen Indian be mourned by his faithful dog, as happens here. And only Ford would create an astonishing scene such as the one in which the laborers, without missing a beat, continue their arduous job of building the iron trail mere moments after having quelled a bloody raid by the evil Cheyennes. Said Cheyennes are here lead by nasty white landowner "Two-Finger" Deroux, played to the hilt by Fred Kohler, who creates one of the silent era's most despicable villains. (Ford actually plays on Kohler's real-life debility, a birth defect apparently and not the results of a dynamiting accident as has often been claimed.) Later in the film, Kohler and leading man George O'Brien engage in one of those legendary silent screen fist-fights where no holds were barred, filmed and edited for maximum effect. The rest of the cast is equally well-appointed: Madge Bellamy pretty and sometimes feisty as O'Brien's love interest; former ingénue Gladys Hullette quite realistic as a frontier floozy; and Edward Bull the very picture of Abraham Lincoln. Former comedian Cyril Chadwick is at his supercilious best as Bellamy's cowardly fiancé, and J. Farrell McDonald plays one of those irascible, but good-natured Irish types so beloved by Ford, who would later cast Victor McLaglen and older brother Francis Ford in the very same kind of roles. In fact, several scenes featuring McDonald, James Welch, and John B. O'Brien as army veterans turned railroad workers reappear almost verbatim in Ford's famous "Cavalry" trilogy (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, and Rio Grande) of the late '40s.

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Product Details

Release Date:
12/04/2007
UPC:
0024543482680
Original Release:
1924
Rating:
NR
Source:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
0
Time:
2:29:00

Special Features

Newly created score composed and conducted by Christopher Caliendo in 5.1 Dolby Surround; Includes both the international and U.S. versions of the film; Audio commentary by author and film historian Robert Birchard; Scoring the Past: The Iron Horse Sessions With Christopher Caliendo featurette; Restoration comparison; Vintage program gallery; Advertising gallery; Still gallery

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Winston Miller Davy (younger)
George O'Brien Davy Brandon
Madge Bellamy Miriam Marsh
Peggy Cartwright Miriam (younger)
Charles Edward Bull Abraham Lincoln
Cyril Chadwick Peter Jesson
James Gordon David Brandon, Sr.
Fred Kohler Deroux
John Farrell MacDonald Cpl. Casey
Gladys Hulette Ruby
James Marcus Judge Haller
Francis Powers Sgt. Slattery
James Welch Private Schultz
Colin Chase Tony
Walter Browne Rogers Gen. Dodge
John Padjan Wild Bill Hickok
Charles O'Malley Maj. North
Charles Newton Collis P. Huntington
Delbert Mann Charles Crocker
Frances Teague Polka Dot
Stanhope Wheatcroft John Hay
Danny Borzage Actor
Judge Charles Abraham Lincoln
Clark Gable Actor
Chief White Spear Sioux Chief
Chief John Big Tree Cheyenne Chief
John B. O'Brien Dinny
Edward Peil Old Chinaman
George Waggner Buffalo Bill Cody
William Walling Thomas Marsh

Technical Credits
John Ford Director,Producer
Burnett Guffey Cinematographer
Charles Kenyon Original Story,Screenwriter
Edward O'Fearna Asst. Director
Erno Rapee Score Composer
John Russell Original Story,Screenwriter
George Schneiderman Cinematographer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Ford at Fox Collection: The Iron Horse (International Version)
1. Main Titles/Dedication [1:50]
2. Dreamers [3:56]
3. Impelled Westward [2:38]
4. Defiance [7:40]
5. Signed Into Law [4:24]
6. The Work Begins [3:57]
7. Headquarters [3:01]
8. Ambushing the Pay Train [4:55]
9. A Woman's Touch [7:03]
10. Hell on Wheels [7:22]
11. Pony Express [5:18]
12. End of Track [3:02]
13. The Quest [2:14]
14. Moving On [5:08]
15. Brandon's Pass [1:56]
16. A New Cheyenne [5:30]
17. No Other Way [3:34]
18. Deliberate Lie [7:31]
19. A Promise [4:55]
20. Showdown [7:21]
21. Specter From the Past [3:46]
22. Trying to Hold Out [8:40]
23. Two Fingers [8:26]
24. The Central Pacific [6:27]
25. From Sea to Sea [4:45]
26. His Father's Dream [1:24]
27. The Golden Spike [5:17]
28. Soundtrack Credits [:16]
Disc #2 -- The Ford at Fox Collection: The Iron Horse (U.S. Version)
1. Main Titles/Dedication [2:39]
2. Dreamers [4:50]
3. Impelled Westward [2:42]
4. Defiance [9:21]
5. Signed Into Law [5:12]
6. The Work Begins [5:12]
7. Headquarters [3:07]
8. Ambushing the Pay Train [5:23]
9. A Woman's Touch [7:59]
10. Hell on Wheels [8:36]
11. Pony Express [5:34]
12. End of Track [3:20]
13. The Quest [3:04]
14. Moving On [6:08]
15. Brandon's Pass [2:14]
16. A New Cheyenne [6:34]
17. No Other Way [4:04]
18. Deliberate Lie [8:00]
19. A Promise [5:31]
20. Showdown [6:59]
21. Specter From the Past [5:50]
22. Trying to Hold Out [9:08]
23. Two Fingers [8:52]
24. The Central Pacific [6:36]
25. From Sea to Sea [5:12]
26. His Father's Dream [1:22]
27. The Golden Spike [5:29]
28. Soundtrack Credits [:17]

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