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The Iron Horse

The Iron HorseAny Western that comes under the
  auspices of the great John Ford is
  already earmarked for success and
  The Iron Horse, a spectacular movie
  from the silent era about the uniting
  of two railroads that bridge a continent,
  filmed in 1924, is no exception
...”

THE IRON HORSE IS THE 1924 BLOCKBUSTER THAT LAUNCHED John Ford into Hollywood's then emerging A-list of directors. One of the movie capital's greatest and most enduringly popular directors, Ford saw The Iron Horse become one of the huge successes of Hollywood's silent era. Over six thousand extras worked on the film!

Ford's illustrious career has included such memorable films as The Quiet Man and a plethora of unforgettable Westerns such as The Searchers (with John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter and a young Natalie Wood), Stagecoach, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and Fort Apache; all of which have stood the test of time.

Watching The Iron Horse today is as rewarding as ever. Strange though silent films may be to the 21st Century's sophisticated movie-goers, it is a terrific Western with a great story set against an historically-accurate landmark in the building of a great country — the construction of the first transcontinental railroad culminating in the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads on 10 May 1869.

In Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln (Charles Edward Bull) — who is to go on to become the President of The United States — is a neighbour of young Davy Brandon and his father, who dreams of a railway line running from the East to West coasts of America. Davy's young friend Miriam Marsh lives close by with her father Thomas (Will Walling) and is clearly smitten with young Davy.

To realise his dream, Brandon takes his son westward; and Miriam promises she will not forget her first love. But in an unprovoked attack by Indians on their camp, Davy's father is murdered by a two-fingered Cheyenne half-breed and the boy finds himself alone.

Now grown up, Dave Brandon (George O'Brien: Sunrise, one of ten films he made with Ford) goes to work for the Pony Express and, while being chased by Indians, is rescued by a passing train. To his utter amazement, Marsh and Miriam (Madge Bellamy), whom he has not seen since their childhood, are on the train. He is dismayed to find she is engaged to a Mr Jesson (Cyril Chadwick), who works for her father on the railroad.

Dave agrees to work for Marsh to help to unite both sides of the continent, but his feelings for Miriam grow stronger and it becomes obvious that she, too, has not forgotten how close the two of them once were.

Unable to shake off his desire for revenge against his father's murderer, Dave has not given up trying to find the elusive half-breed. But for the moment he throws himself into his work, while fighting off the Indians who are trying to prevent the laying of the lines across their lands.

Little realising the danger he is in, Dave shares his father's ambitions with Marsh and finds he is betrayed from an unexpected quarter. An incident leads to a disagreement with Miriam and he realises that the half-breed is closer than he had thought.

As the tracks are laid from both sides by the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific and two iron horses come together, Davy and those around him will find their fates being guided towards a final convergence, much like the tracks being laid by each railroad company.

Historical accuracy, an exciting story, romance and comedy all unite in the ambitious and awe-inspiring silent Western, The Iron Horse. Described as "an epic mythification of the American railroad's birth and a rambunctious blend of historical drama and Western action", The Iron Horse is a tale of revenge; a noble biopic that never let up. And it still has the "wow" factor.

Expressive compositional prowess, incredible stunt work and a brilliant cast playing characters full of romance, dark deeds, generosity, human failings and wonderful comedy turns come together in The Iron Horse. The film clearly anticipates the greatness that Ford was to personify with his work.

The Iron Horse also features: Francis Powers as Sergeant Slattery; J Farrell MacDonald as Corporal Pat Casey; James Welch as Private Schultz; George Wagner as Buffalo Bill Cody; Fred Kohler as Deroux; James Marcus as Judge Haller; and Gladys Hulette as Ruby.

Story is by Charles Kenyon and John Russell; Scenario by Charles Kenyon; Photography by George Schneiderman; Titles by Charles Darnton; the remarkable Music is Composed, Orchestrated and Conducted by Christopher Caliendo; Soundtrack Mastered by Bernie Becker, Recorded at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA, June 28 to July 1 2007.

The Masters of Cinema Series proudly releases The Iron Horse in the US full-length (150-minutes version for the first time on DVD (2 discs) in the UK on 26 September 2011. Catalogue No: EKA40339 | RRP: 20.42 | Certificate: PG | Runing Time: 150 & 133 min approx (see below) | Language: Silent (English).

The Special Two-Disc DVD Edition Features:

Original US, 150-minute version of the film, accompanied by a 2007 score by Christopher Caliendo | Shorter, UK, 133-minute version of the film (which includes alternate takes), accompanied by an adaptation of the Caliendo score | Audio commentary for the UK version of the film by scholar Robert Birchard | New and exclusive 30-minute video essay by Tag Gallagher, author of John Ford: The Man and His Films | A lengthy illustrated booklet containing vintage press and publicity material, and more!

"Historical accuracy, an exciting story, romance and comedy all unite in the ambitious and awe-inspiring silent Western, The Iron Horse" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar

"Accurate and faithful in every particular of fact and atmosphere is this pictorial history of the building of the first transcontinental railroad" — Subtitle from The Iron Horse