Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Overlooked Films: The Great Train Robbery (1903)

This 12-minute film may not look like much today, but it's been judged one of the most influential movies of all time. It was one of the first films to tell a coherent story, and employ such techniques as cross-cutting, double exposure, and movement toward and away from the camera.

It's said that Broncho Bill Anderson played at least three roles: a bandit, the tenderfoot dancer who does a jig and the passenger who gets shot. The guy in the famous "shoot at the camera" scene (above) is said to be Justice D. Barnes. Audiences were reportedly shocked by the scene where the fireman (actually a dummy) is thrown from the train.

Broncho Bill has been called the Father of the Movie Cowboy. He went on to star in over 300 short silent films, including a series he wrote and directed featuring his "Broncho Billy" character.

You can view the entire film below, courtesy of YouTube.



Tuesday's Overlooked Films, Etc. is sponsored each week at this time by Sweet Freedom, where you'll find links to other Overlooked entertainments.


Deka Black said...

THANKS!!! (really, what more is needed to say?

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have seen this several times and always find it amazing. Lots of the earliest films amaze me because the expectation is less sophistication in the story telling and in fact, there is often more.

C. Margery Kempe said...

Very cool! It's really an impressive film. Although I can't help thinking of Peter Cook in Beyond the Fringe every time I see the words "great train robbery."

Todd Mason said...

And sometimes the links at SWEET FREEDOM even have the correct names on them. Odd, for that matter, that Anderson would refer to himself as "Broncho" rather than Bronco...an Italian bronc'-buster, perhaps.

Art does tend to be able to speak to us, at all ages.

Fred Blosser said...

I think nowadays we'd call GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY a docudrama. Some members of the Wild Bunch remained at large in 1903. GTR was probably still making the rounds of the nickelodeons when Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan's career ended in gunfire in 1904 after the Parachute Train Robbery. (Some historians dispute that Logan was the robber.)