Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for the trains!

It was our great train weekend a couple of weekends ago in Niles.

THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (1903): I've seen this one many times. Arguably the first American narrative film, and featuring our patron saint Broncho Billy Anderson (before he was Broncho Billy) in a triple role. Although I've seen it many times (most recently last year at our Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival) for some reason the last time I actually wrote about it was at the Great Nickelodeon Show back in 2009 (either that or I'm really bad at searching my own blog.) In any case, it's still a great film, silly fakeness and all. They were inventing how to make movies back then, and this was a huge step in bringing it from a novelty to the world's dominant art form.

TEDDY AT THE THROTTLE (1917): Another one I've seen many times, and wrote about as recently as 2012. Back then I said:
TEDDY AT THE THROTTLE (1917): I'd seen this before, and I still don't understand the complicated will with the marriage clause any better. But the important thing is Gloria Dawn (Gloria Swanson) is engaged to her sweetheart Bobbie Knight (Bobby Vernon) but her evil guardian (Wallace Beery) is trying to break them up and have Bobbie marry his (Wallace Beery's) sister so they can keep control of his inheritance. And Teddy is a wonder dog who rescues them all, even after Wallace Beery does the ultimate villainy cliche of tying Gloria to the railroad tracks. Again, funny and high energy.
All still true. Especially the confusion about the will and the marriage clause. It's from a different time, I guess.

Then an intermission, and on to the feature.

THE GREAT K&A TRAIN ROBBERY (1926): Finally, one I hadn't seen before, and it's an action packed riot. Tom Mix is the real deal, with charm, humor, heroics, and stunt-work like crazy. Heck, he's introduced hanging on a rope over the end of a cliff, spying on the robbers, then slides down zipline-style and lands right on his horse. He's a detective who was hired by the head of the railroad to stop the gang that keeps robbing his train. But he quickly discovers that the railroad secretary--the boss's main confidante--is in cahoots with the robbers. So rather than reveal himself, he goes undercover and is chased as a robber. But he's still got the moves and the style to stop the robbers, win the girl, and catch the secretary. All in just under an hour. Lean, but action-packed--just like I like 'em!

Total Running Time: 90 minutes
My Total Minutes: 477,844

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