Last fall, John Draftz circulated an email to the Grand Canyon Model Railroader membership with an annotated list of train-themed movies we might want to watch during the pandemic. He also asked us to rate the movies, with 2 stars for movies in which a train is a central "character," 1 star for movies in which trains play a role, and no star for movies in which trains are just a backdrop.

I thought this was a great idea, but I noticed that while the list had 32 entries, it didn't have several of my favorites. I thought I'd add a few new entries from my film collection. And why stop with just a few additions to John's list? Make it an interactive web site with light, cameras, and action! So I selected three movies to get started, and then more, and more, until I had a collection that needed to be broken down into several installments organized around some common themes. Here they are (so far):

  • February 13, 2021 (updated June 12, 2021): Building the American Railroads. This installment features clips from Iron Horse (1903), The Harvey Girls (1946), Canadian Pacific (1949), and Saratoga Trunk (1945)

  • March 7, 2021: Murder on the Rails. This installment features clips from Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950), 4:50 from Paddington (1987), Lady on a Train (1945), The Plymouth Express (1991), and Murder in the Private Car (1934).

  • April 7, 2021: Great Train Robberies. This installment features clips from The Great Train Robbery (1903) and The Great Train Robbery (1978).

  • May 8, 2021: Relax at the Railroad Resorts. This installment features three very different performances of "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and clips from Sun Valley Serenade (1941), Springtime in the Rockies (1942), and Duchess of Idaho (1950).

  • September 12, 2021: Cab Rides. This installment features six selections, all freely available on YouTube, from the vast "cab ride" or "driver view" genre of videos shot out of the train windows along some of the world's most interesting railways.