The Iron Horse


Action / History / Romance / Western

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN


Top cast

Jean Arthur Photo
Jean Arthur as Reporter
George Brent Photo
George Brent as Worker / Extra
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.23 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 30 min
P/S 4 / 2
2.38 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 30 min
P/S 2 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer9 / 10

Perhaps not the most enjoyable silent film, but it sure is amazing and a sight to behold

This movie was shown on Turner Classic Movies last night and I was awfully surprised--as TCM normally doesn't show films made by Fox Studios. Considering how important this film is historically, I am glad they were able to work out the details.

This edition was amazingly gorgeous--with a painstakingly perfect print that looked as good today as when it was first made in 1924. Additionally, the musical score made to accompany this film was one of the best I have heard for a silent--very rousing at times and always appropriate to the movie. From a technical standpoint, it is a wonderful film and those responsible for restoring it are geniuses.

Now when it comes to this John Ford film, you have to admire all the immense effort that went into making it. Thousands were assembled in the Arizona desert and the film has absolutely breathtaking scope and grandeur. Additionally, there are plenty of moments of excitement and action to make it a must for all serious buffs of the silent age. About the only negatives are the slightly old fashion style and subplots (but which were very current and innovative for 1924) and the film never captured my attention the way some other silents have. Surely a tremendous film, but one that also isn't among the very best of the silents--not quite up to the same standards as METROPOLIS, FAUST, and a few of the other standout films of the 20s. Still, for any serious fan of silents, it's a must-see.

Reviewed by bkoganbing7 / 10

Spanning The Continent

Previous to directing The Iron Horse, John Ford had been known as the director of a few dozen B westerns, most of them probably lost by now and most of them starring Harry Carey. In getting the assignment for The Iron Horse, Ford got his first really big budget to work with from Fox Films. The end result was a film which along with Paramount's The Covered Wagon became the models for the big epic westerns. And it launched a whole new career for John Ford that netted four Oscars as a Best Director, though not one of them was for a western.

The story of The Iron Horse begins here in Springfield, Illinois where the children of Will Walling a contractor and surveyor James Gordon are playing while their fathers are meeting with none other than Abraham Lincoln at that time just a state legislator. Both would like to see a transcontinental railroad and Gordon is going to make good on it by going west and surveying the best route through the Rocky Mountains. But out west the surveyor is killed by hostile Indians led by a white man with only two fingers on his right hand. But the boy hides and is missed and grows up to be frontiersman George O'Brien.

Twenty years later in the midst of the great Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signs the legislation authorizing the building of such a railroad though the real work doesn't start until the war is over. By that time Will Walling is working on building the Union Pacific and his daughter has grown up to be Madge Bellamy. She's engaged to Cyril Chadwick another surveyor, but Chadwick has some mixed loyalties.

Those of you who saw the epic DeMille production Union Pacific will recognize from this point some of the same plot situations. No doubt Cecil B. DeMille borrowed quite a bit from The Iron Horse, but I will say DeMille wrecked his train during the Indian attack and it was a beauty. But Ford with all the extras involved could say that his was to use the cliché, a cast of thousands.

The real evil villain here just as Brian Donlevy was in Union Pacific is Fred Kohler. He's behind a lot of the scheming as he's a large landowner where the Cheyenne Indians seem to function as a personal army. Now that was a bit much to swallow. As was the fact that when the grown up George O'Brien first makes his appearance he is identified as a Pony Express rider. Everyone knows that the Pony Express was a year long phenomenon that the Civil War closed down and the telegraph and railroad put out of business permanently. But Ford was also interested in the poetry of the west rather than the facts.

Still the action of The Iron Horse holds up remarkably well today and the careers of both John Ford and George O'Brien were made with this film.

Reviewed by claudio_carvalho8 / 10

Impressive Silent Epic Western

In Springfield, the surveyor Brandon dreams on building the first transcontinental railroad while his skeptical friend Thomas Marsh (Will Walling),who is a small constructor, believes he is nothing but a dreamer chasing a rainbow; their children Davy Brandon and Miriam Marsh are best friends. Brandon heads with Davy to the west, where he finds a possible pass for the railroad. However, a group of Cheyenne led by a white renegade kills and scalps Brandon; Davy, who is hidden, sees that the killer has only two fingers in his right hand. In June 1862, President Abraham Lincoln (Charles Edward Bull) authorizes the construction of two railroads: the Union Pacific from Omaha, Nebraska, to West; and the Central Pacific, from Sacramento, California, to East. His old friend Thomas Marsh is responsible for the construction of the Union Pacific and his daughter Miriam (Madge Bellamy) is engaged of his engineer Jesson (Cyril Chadwick). After many incidents during the construction, Thomas Marsh is short of money and he needs to find a shortcut other than the original route through Smoky River. However, the powerful Bauman (Fred Kohler) that owns the lands where the railroad should pass, bribes Jesson to keep the original route. When the grown-up Davy (George O'Brien) appears in the town bringing the mail, Miriam is glad in meeting him and he tells to Thomas that his father had discovered a pass through the Black Hills. Thomas assigns Jesson to ride with Davy to check the ravine, but Bauman convinces the engineer to kill the rival. Jesson cuts the rope that Davy is using to descent to the pass; returns to town and tells that Davy had an accident and died. However, when Davy returns to town, he discloses the truth and the situation of the engineer becomes unbearable. The desperate Bauman uses the two fingered renegade to convince the Cheyenne to war against the workers and Davy has the chance to meet the killer of his father. On 10 May 1869, the locomotives 116 and Jupiter meets each other in the intersection of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific.

"The Iron Horse" is indeed an impressive silent epic western of John Ford. Of course this western is flawed, with excessive patriotism, subplots and running time of 150 minutes. But considering the limited and primitive technical resources in 1924, it is amazing how the director could have made, for example, the scene of the stampede or the Cheyenne attack. Further, there are unusual angles of camera and the take from below the train arriving to save the workers is sensational in the prime cinema that used huge cameras. The plot seems to be based on the true story of the two North-American transcontinental railroads and the lead story of Davy, Miriam and her father is engaging. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Cavalo de Ferro" ("Iron Horse")

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