The Iron Horse

Film, Action and adventure

Time Out says

The epic silent Western, made as Fox's response to The Covered Wagon and effortlessly surpassing it. A paean to Lincoln and the notion of Manifest Destiny, it recounts the building of the first transcontinental railroad. Gangs start from both coasts, rebuffing Indian attacks, thwarting greedy landowners, initiating a sweeping trail drive and moving whole towns along the line. After battles against the rigours of blizzard and desert, the final spike is driven home as the hero avenges his father's murder and wins back his childhood sweetheart. Visual glories (and stirring piano accompaniment) sweep aside objections to the tedious passages, the psychological ineptitude, and the racist portrayal of Indians, Irish and 'coolies'. As in Stagecoach, each scene and each character looks fresh struck at the mint of myth, while every frame asserts that this is the making of America and of the American cinema.

By: JW


Release details

11 mins

Cast and crew

John Ford
Charles Kenyon
George O'Brien
Madge Bellamy
Charles Edward Bull
William Walling
Fred Kohler
Cyril Chadwick
Delbert Mann
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