Railway Preservation News

Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
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Author:  J3a-614 [ Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas

Gary Gray wrote:
A great "human" story that would make a good Christmas movie is the pulp railroad fiction short story "The Night Run" by John Johns. It tells the story of an engineer who is grieving at the holidays for the loss of his son near the previous Christmas. Good railroad drama, bucking snowstorm & late trains, no heat in the passenger cars, red signals in the face, the usual lovable hash house queen, etc. During the his layover before the run through the snow on Dec. 24th, he befriends an orphan kid working at a diner... later finds the kid riding on his tender.... takes him home to the wife for Christmas Day.... Original setting is near Chicago during WWI, but I could envision it being filmed in SW Virginia set during WWII... starring 611, 1218, 475, 630, 4501, Southern E's..... George Clooney as the engineer, Matt Damon firing, Tom Hanks as the Conductor... Hallmark should pay for it as atonement for all the sappy historical tearjerkers they've subjected us to over the years.....

Sounds wonderful, both as a film as suggested, and as a read!

John Johns was a New York Central conductor as I recall, and if I remember right he died relatively young due to a heart attack. His stories were mostly on a fictional road clearly inspired by the NYC in the era and location you describe.

I'd like to look it up; where did it appear? I don't recall reading it, but I assume it appeared in Railroad Magazine. Any help would be appreciated.

EDIT: A Virginia variation would be grand, but I doubt Hallmark would pay for 611, 1218, et al, and likely not for Clooney, Damon, and Hanks, either! On the other hand, I could see Hallmark or someone else in the made-for-television business shooting this in something like the original period. Likely nominations for the road would include Mid-Continent, Strasburg, perhaps Steamtown, and maybe even the Henry Ford. It might take some creativity to portray a much larger road than these are (particularly for the Strasburg, which is only 4 1/2 miles long, and the loop at Dearborn), but it could be done, especially if you worked in computer-generated backdrops and even whole scenes, such as opening from the film "Hugo," and for that matter, various scenes in "The Lone Ranger:"




Speaking of "The Lone Ranger," with some very minor detail changes those prop locomotives would be right at home with the beautiful cars at Mid-Continent as a way to deal with the fact that Mid-Continent is, alas, currently steamless.

Author:  Richard Glueck [ Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas

I submitted an idea to Discovery Channel to do a series on recovering a CPR 2-8-0 from 600 feet in an icy lake in British Columbia. I can visualize a terrific series of one-hour shows, but they didn't agree!

Author:  J3a-614 [ Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas

This turned up in another conversation, and it seems appropriate to set it here:


Author:  Dougvv [ Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas


I just found this thread. Good ideas. Two comments at this time:

WKRP, Wings, Taxi, MASH, Scrubs, they are all human comedy with the context just propped up as a backdrop.

WKRPs first year was based on the Atlanta Based 96 Rock radio antics when it changed form elevator music to Rock about 1973. Many of the people from the radio station helped out on the ideas for the scripts. Writers exaggerated some. It was a good show after Season 1 but Season 1 was the best. The Turkey Drop actually happened - people were fired - the Hindenburg by Les Nessman was a great fiction.

M*A*S*H - In my understanding, W. E. B. Griffin wrote some 20-30 books about M*A*S*H units around the world. They were intended to show the hard times of woking in a MASH unit. I've never read them (weak stomach). However, I have read his 3 WWII series "The Corp" (items in the Pacific), "Men at war" (the OSS in Europe), and "Honor Bound" (espionage in the American Theater - Argentina). Fictional characters moving through real events from those War years. Great reading.

The Movie M*A*S*H was based on Griffin's books. The Studio took the basic idea and turned it into a comedy showing irreverence for the military. Griffin hated it. I enjoyed the TV series until it became a sounding board for Alan Alda's anti war position.

There was a Railroad based series (2 seasons) about building the Union Pacific Railroad in the early-mid 1960s. I do not recall the name but Alan Hale Jr. was the staring and the first season was great. Trains moved, droughts happened, supply shortages, etc. The second season did not show any trains. Alan Hale Jr. was not available for season 3 - he'd signed up for Gilligan's Island.

A third comment: The movie "Denver and Rio Grande" was good in that it showed a fictionalize version of real railroad events - building the D&RG.

Fourth comment: If you use a "Love American Style" TV series format. One episode could show Jawn Henry. One episode could deal with the rivers up north freezing and for instance the NYC at the Hudson River building track out on the frozen Hudson and using mule teams to get the freight cars to the other side of the river. An episode on the FEC line to Key West and the trials of keeping the line open.

Lots of interesting items but this is where a great script writer would be needed, to make it interesting to the public. The TV series "EMERGENCY" was a good way to have common characters. and have public service items (Paramedics were new in the 1970s). How about finding a way to include the information about how dangerous beating a train to a grade crossing is?


Doug vV

Author:  steamfan765 [ Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas

I think a few railroading movies. there should a movie about Ross Rowland and Commodore Vanderbilt. they're railroading legends after all we all know that.

Author:  Dougvv [ Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas


The TV series I was trying to recall was called "The Iron Horse".

Doug vV


Author:  dinwitty [ Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas

This is a concept which has burned in the back of my mind for a long time.

There was a TV series not too long back that had some railroad theme behind it.
It didnt last long.

I think there's been more railroad story dramatics out there than we have ever been told.
Railroad magazine had plenty of fictional stories in it, it was a mag for the railroaders essentially.

I wonder if you could do a series that storied around various railroad lore, to some humourus times when 2 trains in Indiana running in opposite directions stopped at a signal facing each other, the engineers got out argueing who should get thru (You back up to that siding and let me thru...NO you back up..." ad infinitum.

O Winston Link captured some of that drama in pics and audio.

Really, I would love to see some N&W stories with steam but would take a lot of digitizing steam in. None of this hollywood fakery.

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