Trains on TV and Screen

Summary

Toy trains and model railways have appeared in various kinds of productions for TV, but are rare in movies. Compiled here are a number of toy train/model railway "cameos" that have appeared on British and North American TV. The UK ones I have seen, but the Canadian and US ones are by report and research.

Trains themselves have of course been a central or tangential theme in many movies, far too numerous to list. Moreover, incidental train sequences have appeared in innumerable movies and TV shows, usually as cameo shots, mostly where the characters are arriving or departing at a station, and/or with on-board interior shots, or with skilful photography of the train in motion. Those movies selected here are, for the most part, ones I have seen and enjoyed.

Documentary, railway or model/toy train specific, and travelogue-type productions, are entirely prolific, and have not been included in this article on that account.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Toy Trains and Model Railways on TV and Screen

UK TV

(arranged alphabetically)
                                                                                                                                                    

A Touch of Frost (Sir David Jason) episode No Other Love. [See below under Inspector Morse.]


Are You Being Served? comedy series. The episode A Change is as Good as a Rest (Season 5, Episode 2) features a model railway layout. The Grace Brothers apparel team is transported over to the toy department for the day, and Mr. Grainger (Arthur Brough) becomes so infatuated with operating the toy department Triang/Hornby 00 layout that he doesn't want to return to his men's wear department.

Inspector Morse (John Thaw) episode Sins of the Fathers.

In both of the Frost and Morse cameos, the layouts were 00 scale, and of course British prototype. A little discomforting perhaps, in both cases, the owners of these layouts were cast as reclusive or troubled souls, with their model railway obviously a solace and a retreat from the injustices, betrayals and conflicts that were being dealt to them.


Heartbeat: An episode with some depth is – The Devil You Know. This featured a magnificent Hornby 0 Gauge electric train set-up in a totally cheerful context. As Heartbeat fans will be aware, there is always a secondary plot that revolves around the simple, yet in many ways "out-of-the-mouth-of-babes" wise, "David" (David Lonsdale). In this story, he is offered this wonderful toy train. "David's" almost childlike surprise ("flippin' 'eck"), simple joy and disarming disbelief that he was actually about to inherit this marvellous layout is altogether memorable. While most TV appearances are of necessity fleeting, and the trains are always whizzing around at a dizzying speed, the Heartbeat portrayal is indeed a study,  together with a glimpse of some accessories that would make any Hornby enthusiast's heart beat (sorry) faster.

 

Midsomer Murders first series with DCI Tom Barnaby (Tom Nettles) episode Birds of Prey. Again British prototype 00 scale, where its happy-faced but far-away-spaced owner was absorbed in watching his trains go round as a retreat from his somewhat eccentric business life, but alas he was also in the early stage of dementia. 

 

Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwan) mystery. In the episode A Murder is Announced, a three-rail Hornby-Dublo Duchess of Atholl locomotive and the two standard "train set" LMS coaches make a brief appearance, with Miss Marple looking in through a shop window as the train makes a circuit or two. It is a substitute cameo for a brief real railway scene as the police inspector is pursuing Miss Marple's advice on a train journey to Scotland. Neat effect.

Monarch of the Glen: There are, I am told, "some nice shots" of a Hornby 0 Gauge layout on a library pool table that has appeared in at least one episode. It appears that in the story it belongs to Hector, the Laird of Glenbogle Castle, in which case its appearance(s) would have been in the earlier episodes.  

 

Thomas (the Tank Engine) and Friends: a most popular children's program featuring model trains and segments from prototype railways
 

Canadian TV

 

Polka Dot Door, a children's television show, an unidentified episode where a collector brings in some pre-war trains.

Thomas (the Tank Engine) and Friends: a most popular children's program featuring model trains and segments from prototype railways

 


US TV

Captain Kangaroo (Season 4, episode 189) - Captain Kangaroo Takes Out the Electric Trains.  

Dennis the Menace (Season 2, Episode 30) The Soapbox Derby. The prize was an H0 train set, but Dennis's father made a bet on the side, and with the winnings bought Dennis a Lionel 0 set that goes right round the living room on the floor.     

Frasier (Season and episode unidentified) - a Christmas episode, with a train around the tree.

Matlock There are a few episodes where Ben Matlock has some pre-war Lionel trains and some G scale models displayed in his office.

Mr. Rogers (Mr. Rogers' Neighbourhood) - children's TV - a signature "prop" is the "Neighbourhood Trolley".

Murder in Small Town X (reality show, episode unidentified): Short clip of some Lionel trains.

Perry Mason (Season 2, episode 27) The Case of the Deadly Toy features an American Flyer layout (although that is not the deadly toy).

Seinfeld (Season 9, episode 6) The Merv Griffin Show, Jerry dates a girl who has a large collection of vintage toys that include two green Lionel Standard Gauge passenger cars and  caboose, but Jerry is not allowed to play with any of them as they are in mint condition.

Silver Spoons features a rideable train that runs through the set.

The Addams Family (Season 1, episode 1) The Addams Family Goes to School. Large Lionel layout, a bridge is detonated - "You did that on purpose?" "Why of course, why else would a grown man play with trains?" Also Lionel train episodes reported on the New Addams Family series. 

Thomas (the Tank Engine) and Friends: a most popular children's program featuring model trains and segments from prototype railways

Reportedly, also in some episodes of sitcoms Two-and-a-Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.  


US Movies

Reportedly, department store appearances in

A Christmas Story (1983)

A Holiday Affair (1949)

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

 

Prototype Trains on TV and Screen

For the purpose of grading the extent of the railway component to the story, I offer these ratings as to the degree of involvement of the railway presence for those movies I have seen myself:

 

Central to the story. *****

Tangential or intermittent to the story, but contributory. ***

Incidental to the story. * or **, depending on degree.

UK TV
(arranged alphabetically)
                                                                                                                                                             

A Touch of Frost: In a grisly vein, in The Benefit of the Doubt a woman is found dead on a busy rail line. Great rail photography.  Incidental. **


Cranford: The three-part series aired on North American PBS Television features in Part 3 the excavation and a dynamite accident as railway construction makes its way towards Cranford. Incidental. *  In the sequel Return to Cranford, the railway sequences were filmed on the Foxfield Light Railway, Staffordshire.

 

Downton Abbey: Excellent period piece serial drama of life in one of England's stately homes. Several arrivals and departures, "Downton" station is the Horsted Keynes station on the Bluebell Railway. Incidental. *

 

Goodnight Mr. Tom: - train arrivals and departures. A young lad is evacuated on account of the wartime bombing, and comes to stay with a grumpy old man (John Thaw). "Weirwold" station is Arley station on the Severn Valley Railway. Incidental. *

 

Heartbeat: Because of its locale around and about Goathland on the North Yorkshire moors, there are several episodes where the "Aidensfield" (in real life, Goathland) station and the preserved trains of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway are part of the comings and goings in the story, but there is a complete episode of skulduggery around a disused siding somewhere near Aidensfield in Off the Rails. Central. *****
Also Night Mail Incidental **, Strangers on a Train Incidental *

 

Hercule Poirot:

The Plymouth Express. A wealthy heiress departs from London to Plymouth via Bristol. Departure shot taken at Hull Paragon station, and is convincing for another terminal station such as Paddington. Great shot of arrival at "Bristol" station. Neat aerial and other "travelling" shots of the train, but are on a single (preserved?) line. Unavoidable perhaps, but Isambard Kingdom Brunel would not have been amused. Tangential. ***

Mystery of the Blue Train. Some fleeting or short exterior images, and the usual interior corridor and compartment shots. Incidental. **

Murder on the Orient Express.  Classic Agatha Christie, has become legendary, with a movie made also (see below). Intermittent exterior shots, and almost continuous (to be expected) interior shots. The DVD edition includes a "Special Feature" - 'David Suchet on the Orient Express'. In the form of a travelogue but has excellent photography of the revived Orient Express - aerial, railside and interior. Central *****                           

 

Inspector Morse (John Thaw) episode The Wolvercote Tongue 1987
Short scenes at the Didcot Railway Centre (where an American tourist snuck off from the tour to go see some trains) and the Oxford railway station where the murder suspect was arrested. Incidental**

Last of the Summerwine: (1979) Full Steam Behind with Foggy (Brian Wilde), Compo (Bill Owen) and Cleggy (Peter Sallis), with the Dodworth Colliery Band playing for the official reception that never quite happened. Great fun. Shot on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. Central. ***** Also occasional appearances of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, station in various other episodes. Incidental. *


Yes, Minister: (1980) The Official Visit Series 1 Episode 2. Departure of overnight sleeping car express to Scotland. Incidental*

Love on a Branchline: TV adaptation of a novel, in four episodes. The railway scenes were filmed on the North Norfolk Railway, with its Weybourne station serving as the Arcady Hall stop in the story. Tangential. ****
                        

 

Midsomer Murders episodes

Things that go Bump in the Night (Series 8) includes a story-line preserved working railway. While the railway is not central to the plot, there are some generous sequences. Filmed at Quainton Road station at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, a 25 acre working steam railway museum. Tangential. ****

Down Among the Dead Men (Series 9). There are two brief cameo shots of the same railway, the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. Incidental. *

Death in a Chocolate Box (Series 10). Several DMU sequences. "Holm Lane Junction" is Chinnor station of the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Rly. Incidental. * 

Miss Marple (Joan Hickson) The episode 4.50 from Paddington. Another good murder mystery that starts with  a number of railway scenes filmed at Paddington station and at Bewdley on the Severn Valley Railway. Again, railway purists must forgive the ubiquitous single track and two trains travelling beside each other on Sandbourne Viaduct, but it's a good story and one must make allowances for the replay on God's Wonderful Railway. Tangential. ***

Oh, Doctor Beeching! An achingly funny BBC sitcom, written by David Croft and Richard Spendlove. It ran for two series from July 1996 to September 1997. It focuses on the small fictional branch line railway station of Hatley, which is threatened with closure under the Beeching axe. The program was filmed on the Severn Valley Railway (SVR). Arley station in Upper Arley was used as Hatley station. Starring Paul Shane, Julia Deakin, Jeffrey Holland, Stephen Lewis, Su Pollard, Paul Aspen. Central *****

Sherlock (Series 1 Episode 3) The Great Game - starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman - investigating Mycroft's case - an apparent trackside death. Incidental *.

Victoria (Series 1 Episode 7) The Engine of Change - Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) take separate rides on the train drawn by the Planet. The locomotive is a replica built by the Friends of the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and operates here on the Loughborough Heritage Railway. Incidental. **

UK Movies

(arranged alphabetically)
 

Brief Encounter (1945) Directed by David Lean, with Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey. A moving love story that spoke to societal convention of the day. Black & white photography. Filmed at Carnforth, Lancashire, station. Tangential. ***

Dr. Zhivago (1965) Directed by David Lean; starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. The grand love story at the time of the Russian Revolution. The rail travel scenes were filmed in Canada, and all the trains used in the film were Spanish equipment. Incidental. **

49th Parallel (1941), war drama film; written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. (Released in the United States as The Invaders.) Starring Anton Walbrook, Raymond Massey, Laurence Olivier and Leslie Howard. Despite the title, the only border scene is at Niagara Falls where the train episode takes place. Incidental.*
 

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) Directed by Sidney Lumet, with Albert Finney (as Hercule Poirot), Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, (Sir) John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark.

 

Night Train to Munich (1940). Directed by Carol Reed. Wartime thriller.  Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison, Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne. Suspense right to the end, with a spectacular escape across the Swiss border. Done with mock-ups and a model train, all in studio, as on-location filming was obviously not possible. Tangential ***.

Night Train to Murder (1984) A comedy, directed by Joseph McGrath and starring Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. Incidental, mostly interior. *


Oh, Mr. Porter (1937). Directed by Marcel Varnel and starring Will Hay, Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt. A comedy, and widely acclaimed as the best of Hay's work, and a classic of its genre. Despite the majority of the film being set in Northern Ireland, none of the filming took place there; the railway station at Buggleskelly was the disused Cliddesden railway station on the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway, which had closed to goods in 1936. "Gladstone", the ancient steam locomotive, was portrayed by No.2 Northiam 2-4-0T built by Hawthorn Leslie in 1899 and loaned by the Kent and East Sussex Railway to the film. The engine was returned to the company after completion of the film and remained in service until 1941, when it was scrapped. The title sequence uses scenes shot at a variety of locations on the Waterloo to Southampton railway line, Central *****


Room at the Top (1959). Directed by Jack Clayton; starring Simone Signoret, Laurence Harvey, Heather Sears, Donald Wolfit, Donald Houston, Hermione Baddeley. A story of young ambition and a tragic love triangle in the "where there's muck there's brass [money]" North of England. The Halifax, Yorkshire railway station doubles as Warnley station in the film. Incidental * 

 

The First Great Train Robbery (1979, in the USA, "The Great Train Robbery"). Directed by Michael Crichton, starring Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Leslie-Ann Down. Theft of a shipment of gold bullion to finance the Crimean War. Drama and adventure, Great period piece. Used an original locomotive dating from 1855, filmed mostly in Ireland on the now-closed Mullingar - Athlone railway line. The station scenes were filmed at Kent station, Cork, Ireland. Central *****

The Ghost Train (1941) A mystery thriller directed by Walter Forde, based on the 1923 play written by Arnold Ridley. Starring Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Carole Lynne, Morland Graham, Herbert Lomas. A short exterior sequence near Dawlish, Devon. Most of the action takes place in a station waiting room. Central ****

The Lady Vanishes (1938). Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty, Paul Lukas, Cecil Parker. A charming old lady vanishes on a train, and a young woman whom she had befriended tries to locate her. European trains. Central ****.  

 

The Navigators (2001) written by Robert Dawber, directed by Ken Loach. A drama about British Rail privatization and rail safety. Very topical in Canada right now. Dark humour and salty language. Filmed around Sheffield, Yorkshire. Central *****.

 The Railway Children (1970 and several TV drama adaptations, including 1968 and 2000). Classic period piece and poignant story filmed on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.  Central. *****

The Railway Man (2013) a British–Australian war film directed by Jonathan Teplitzky; an adaptation of the bestselling autobiography of the same name by Eric Lomax, and stars Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine and Stellan Skarsgård. It premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on 6 September 2013.

The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935). Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Godfrey Tearle, Wylie Watson, Peggy Ashcroft. Action, humour and suspense. Flying Scotsman on the journey north, and some spectacular shots of the Firth of Forth bridge. Incidental **.

The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953). When their branchline is declared redundant, the local villagers vow to keep the service going themselves. Sheer comedy. Directed by Charles Crichton; starring Stanley Holloway, George Relph, Naunton Wayne, John Gregson, Hugh Griffith, Gabrielle Brune, Sidney James. "Titfield" station was actually Monkton Combe, Somerset, and the "Mallingford" station in the closing scene is Bristol Temple Meads. The locomotive 'Thunderbolt' is/was the second-oldest British locomotive in steam (Lion), and was 114 years old at the time of the film. Central. *****

 

Time Bomb (1953) A British-made post-war thriller film written by Kem Bennett and directed by Ted Tetzlaff. starring Glenn Ford and Anne Vernon. In the US it was released under the title Terror on a Train. "It was about a train load of mines in Birmingham in 1946 or so. The IRA got at the mines and Glenn Ford (a former RCE Major and bomb disposal expert) got fingered to disarm them. For anyone who lived in the urban UK in the immediate post-war years this is a real nostalgia trip" - contributed by Ed Barrett. ***


Canadian Movies

 

The Railrodder (1965) National film Board of Canada. Buster Keaton ventures across Canada in a speeder (handcar). Final silent short (21 minutes) comedy film. Directed by Gerald Potterton. Central. *****

Train 406 (1958) National Film Board of Canada. Directed by Fergus McDonell. This short documentary offers a step-by-step account of a fast freight train on a run from Toronto to Halifax, with glimpses of the vast amount of organization necessary in the operation of a country-wide transportation network.

Canadian TV 
A Midnight Train to Kingston (2013) "Murdoch Mysteries" CBC Drama Series Season 7, Episode 9.  A prisoner is being transported to Kingston for execution. South Simcoe Railway Heritage Corporation equipment and location. See old 136 in action. *****

 

French Movies

La Bataille du Rail (1946) Directed by René Clément. Drama. French railwaymen work with the French Resistance to impede and defeat Nazi troop and matériel movements. Central *****

La Bête Humaine (1938) A love story in the grand French tradition, with fantastic rail photography, especially from the footplate (cab). Directed by Jean Renoir, starring Jean Gabin, Julien Carette, Simone Simon and Fernand Ledoux. Central *****


Les Vacances de M. Hulot (1953) Directed by and starring Jacques Tati. A light-satirical comedy, including a delightful incomprehensible (even in French) station announcer. Incidental *

US Movies
(arranged alphabetically)

A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) A Western Comedy, directed by Richard Sale, starring Dan Dailey, Anne Baxter, Rory Calhoun and the Denver & Rio Grande narrow gauge railway. **** 

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) A veteran needs to clear up a mystery. Opening and closing shots as he gets off at a desert whistle stop and gets back on the transcontinental  the next day. Thriller, starring Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan. Directed by John Sturges. Filmed at Lone Pine, California and on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Incidental. **

 

Emperor of the North (1973) A brutal conductor vows to keep hobos off his train.  Directed by Robert Aldrich. Starring Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin. Shot near Cottage Grove, Oregon on the right-of-way and using equipment of the Oregon, Pacific & Eastern RR. Central *****


Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) A drama-comedy set in the Depression-years. The hamlet is served by a wayside station, and the nearby Whistlestop Café is at the heart of the moving story. Stars Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker and Jessica Tandy. Directed by Jon Avnet. The railway track with working Pacific-type A&WP 290 of the New Georgia Railroad weaves a thread throughout the story, and a tragic early scene sets the theme for the movie. The film location is Juliette, Monroe County, Georgia. Tangential ***

Santa Fe Trail (1940). Directed by Michael Curtiz. Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ronald Reagan, Raymond Massey. The first rumblings of the anti-slavery movement, and the impending Civil War. Western. Exterior and interior early railroads. Incidental *.

 

Shanghai Express (1932) Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Starring Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong, Warner Oland. Drama. Interior and exterior scenes. Incidental. **

Some Like It Hot (1959) Two musicians saw something they shouldn't have, and need "to get out of Dodge" fast. Their hurried departure for Florida has some good platform and interior sleeping car shots. Directed by Billy Wilder, starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe and George Raft. Incidental. *

 

Strangers on a Train (1951) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Two passengers get into a conversation and hatch a plot to kill. Stars Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker. Railway scenes shot at Penn station New York City, and at Danbury, Connecticut. Incidental * 

 

The General (1926).  Silent film, based on the Great Locomotive Chase, starring Buster Keaton. Directed by Clyde Bruckman. Central. *****


The Lone Ranger (2013). Western action movie, directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. A contemporary railway constructed specially for the making of the movie. Central *****

The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) Directed by Joseph Sargent, starring Walther Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Héctor Elizondo. A group of criminals hijack a New York subway train and take hostages for ransom. Central *****

 

The Train (1964), directed by John Frankenheimer, starring Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield and Jeanne Moreau. A French Resistance plot to stop looted art from being shipped to Germany in the last days of WWII. Arguably the most thrilling and memorable movie with a train as a central theme ever made, evoking grim memories of the evil of Nazi occupation. One of the last movies of the black and white era - great photography and effects. Central. *****

 

Von Ryan's Express (1965). Prisoner escape story. High drama. Directed by Mark Robson. Stars Frank Sinatra, Trevor Howard, Raffaella Carrà, Brad Dexter. The majority of the film was shot in northern Italy, but the closing scene in Spain. Central. *****


Movies and TV shows that used Canadian railway stations and/or locations, contributed by Clayton Self, a Canadian TV and film buff, who runs The “Forest Rangers” Fan Page and loves to explore filming locations.
 
US/Canadian Movies 
(arranged chronologically)

BUSH PILOT (1947) directed by Stirling Campbell, was shot in part in Muskoka, Ontario, and uses the Cooksville CPR station.

 

STATION MASTER (1954 NFB) filmed at the station in Finch, Ontario. 


THE RAILRODDER (1965) starring Buster Keaton, directed by Gerald Potterton - a (very) brief glimpse of the ex-CNoR Entrance, Alberta station. (For a link to the movie, see under "Canadian Movies" above.)

 

THE FOX (1967), directed by Mark Rydell, starring Keir Dullea, shot of Unionville station, Ontario
 
THE FIRST TIME (1969), a "coming of age" film starring Jacqueline Bisset, Wes Stern, Ricky Kelman, Wink Roberts, and Gerard Parkes, directed by James Neilson, showing the Niagara Falls station, Ontario.

 

WAITING FOR CAROLINE (1969) used the Quebec City station

HOMER (1970), directed by John Trent, starring Don Scardino, used the Unionville station, Ontario
 
THE PROUD RIDER (1971), directed by Walter Baczynsky, starring Art Hindle, used the Oshawa CP Railyard, Ontario
 
FACE-OFF (1971),  directed by George McGowan, produced by John F. Bassett, starring Art Hindle, used the Weston CPR station, masquerading as the Waubaushene station, Ontario 

THE LAST DETAIL (1973), an American comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Otis Young, featured the Union station, Toronto, Ont. 

 

VENGEANCE IS MINE (SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY) (1974), directed by John Trent, starring Ernest Borgnine, used the Locust Hill station, Ontario

GINA (1975)  drama film from Quebec, directed by Denys Arcand, starring Celine Lomez as Gina, a stripper who, after being raped in a motel room, hires two criminal thugs to exact her revenge on the rapists. The Beaconsfield and Berthier, Quebec railway stations.

 

THE MYSTERY OF THE MILLION DOLLAR HOCKEY PUCK (1975), written and directed by Jean LaFleur and Peter Svatek, starring Mike MacDonald, Angele Knight, Jean-Louis Millette has scenes filmed at the old Gare du Palais Station in Quebec City.
 
SILVER STREAK (1976), directed by Arthur Hiller, starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, all exterior train shots were filmed on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in Alyth Yard, Calgary Alberta and Toronto, also at the Locust Hill and Toronto Union stations, Ontario
 
RAGTIME SUMMER (1977), directed by Alan Bridges, starring David Warner used the Lakefield station, Ontario

WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND (1977), Canadian drama film. Directed by Allan King and written by Patricia Watson, the film is an adaptation of W. O. Mitchell's influential novel. The film stars Brian Painchaud as Brian O'Connall, with a supporting cast including Douglas Junor, Patricia Hamilton, Gordon Pinsent, Helen Shaver, Chappelle Jaffe, Charmion King, Leslie Carlson and José Ferrer. The Arcola (Sask) CPR station.

WHY SHOOT THE TEACHER (1977). A  Canadian comedy-drama film based on a book of the same name by Max Braithwaite. Directed by Silvio Narizzano, starring Bud Cort, Samantha Eggar, Kenneth Griffith, Chris Wiggins. Bud Cort flags a train down near Hanna, Alberta.

TWO SOLITUDES (1978), directed by Lionel Chetwynd; starring Jean-Pierre Aumont, Stacy Keach and Gloria Carlin was filmed at the old Ottawa station beside the Chateau Laurier.

FISH HAWK (1979), directed by Donald Shebib and starring Will Sampson, used the huge railway trestle at the Forks of the Credit, Ontario (close by "the Devil's Pulpit" on the Niagara Escarpment) to film the final scene.

THE HOUNDS OF NOTRE DAME (1980). A Canadian drama film directed by Zale Dalen, starring Thomas Peacocke and Barry Morse. It used the Sukanen Pioneer Village Museum train station in Moose Jaw, Sask and added the sign "Wilcox" to it for the filming.

FINDERS KEEPERS (1984), directed by Richard Lester and starring Michael O'Keefe, Beverly D'Angelo, and with an early performance by Jim Carrey, was shot at the High River, Alberta (made out to be the High River, Nebraska station), at the Vancouver CNR BC, briefly at Calgary (masquerading as Denver), and also at the Lethbridge Alberta railway stations.

PLACES NOT OUR OWN (1986) An NFB film, directed by Derek Mazur, starring Dianne Debassige, Tantoo Cardinal and Steve Isfeld. Features the Napinka CPR (Manitoba) railway station.

KEEPING TRACK (1986), directed by Robin Spry; starring Michael Sarrazin, Margot Kidder, Alan Scarfe was filmed at Windsor Station in Montreal with the closing scene filmed at Hays station at Exporail posing as Rouses Point, N.Y.

DEAD OF WINTER (1987), directed by Arthur Penn, starring Mary Steenburgen, Roddy McDowall and Jan Rubes - featured the St. Clair, Toronto, Ontario station.

FAMILY REUNION  (1987) starring Rebecca Jenkins, ends with a scene at the station in Gravenhurst.

TWO IF BY SEA (1996) American romantic comedy (STOLEN HEARTS in the UK) directed by Bill Bennett, starring Dennis Leary and Sandra Bullock used renamed VIA Rail equipment on Nova Scotia's Dominion Atlantic Railway ( a CPR subsidiary).

SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) An American superhero film, written and directed by David Ayer and stars an ensemble cast - featured the Union station, Toronto, Ont.


US/Canadian TV
(arranged chronologically)

CANNONBALL (1950s), used the Maple train yard, Ontario 
 
Forest Rangers episode (1963-65 CBC Television): THE CHASE, shot at mile 54 on the former CNR Beeton Sub just south of Tottenham and showcases the junior rangers riding a railway jigger.
 
ADVENTURES IN RAINBOW COUNTRY (1969) a few episodes used the railway train scenes at Whitefish Falls, Ontario

DOCTOR SIMON LOCKE (1971) a Canadian medical drama, created by Chester Krumholz and Wilton Schiller, starring Sam Groom. Used the Kleinburg (Nashville) CPR station in Season 1.

ALMOST HOME (1972 TVO) starring Michael Duhig and produced by William Davidson. Uxbridge Station. 

NATIONAL DREAM (1974)  Television docudrama 8-part miniseries based on Pierre Berton's 1970 book of the same name, plus Berton's 1971 follow-up book The Last Spike. The television adaptation was written by William Whitehead and Timothy Findley. The series portrayed the concept and construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway during the late 19th century, with Berton himself as narrator. The National Dream combined dramatic reconstructions of the events (directed by Eric Till) with documentary content (directed by James Murray). Starring John Colicos, Gillie Fenwick, William Hutt, Joseph Shaw, Gerard Parkes, Chris Willgins. Locations various including Webbwood (Ont.) station and Caledon East (Ont.) (last spike driving ceremony re-enactment).
 
ADVENTURES OF TIMOTHY PILGRIM (1975 TVO TV) show used the Jerseyville Station west of Hamilton, Ontario
 
THE LITTLEST HOBO (1979-85), two episodes. Season one used Toronto Union Station and the episode with Deforest Kelley used the Maple Station, both Ontario

SPIRIT BAY (1982-87) aired on CBC Television and TVOntario. The show focused on the lives of townsfolk on an Ojibwe reservation town near MacDiarmid, Ontario. The winter episode called "Time to be Brave" featured the Nakina Train Station and rail yard. 

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (1985) a Canadian mini-series drama film produced and directed by Kevin Sullivan, starring Megan Follows. Used the train station at Westfield Heritage Village, Ont. (Jerseyville TH&B), and also at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum, Ont. (Rockwood CNR ex GTR).

THE KING CHRONICLE (1988 TV documentary), directed by Donald Brittain, used the Hays station at Exporail for one scene. The signboard was changed to  Swift Current.

ROAD TO AVONLEA (1990-1996), a Canadian television series created by Kevin Sullivan, starring Sarah Polley. Used the station at Westfield Heritage Village, Ont. (Jerseyville TH&B) and the replica station (Sulphur Springs) at the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, Ont.

DUE SOUTH (1994-1999), a Canadian crime series with elements of comedy, created by Paul Haggis. Toronto Union station and railway lines around Ontario.

WIND AT MY BACK (1996-2001), a Canadian television series created and produced by Kevin Sullivan. Used the South Simcoe Railway and a mock train station in Tottenham called the New Bedford Station. (This was relocated to the back lot in Toronto for the rest of the show's run.)

 

PARADISE FALLS (2001), a Canadian television series, starring Art Hindle, used still shots of the CP Mactier Subdivision line at Port Stanton, Ontario near Sparrow Lake.

 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING (2005) TV series, starring Mira Sorvino and Donald Sutherland, has a foot-chase scene filmed at the Montreal-West commuter station.

 

A MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO KINGSTON (2013) "Murdoch Mysteries" CBC Drama Series Season 7, Episode 9.  A prisoner is being transported to Kingston for execution. South Simcoe Railway Heritage Corporation equipment and location.

 


Additional recommendations by John D. Thompson,
photographer, writer, steam train and classic movie connoisseur:

(arranged chronologically)

TWENTIETH CENTURY (1934) John Barrymore, Carole Lombard. Scenes aboard famed train, and a few authentic exterior views, pulled by NYC Hudson locomotive

SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Has a wonderfully evocative scene of a Southern Pacific 2-8-0 bringing a passenger train on the Northwestern Pacific into the station at Santa Rosa, California (which survives); clouds of smoke, which Hitchcock requested for dramatic effect, and the heroine's young brother watching the train, an act so characteristic of the era. Similar scene at end of film, and life-and-death struggle aboard between Joseph Cotton and Teresa Wright. Highly recommended as a movie in itself, and Hitchcock's favourite film.

THE COUNTRY DOCTOR (1947) Stars Bing Crosby, set in Maine, and has a rare scene of a Maine Central Passenger train, pulled by a Pacific, departing the Portland station with its train shed.

NIGHT SLEEPER TO TRIESTE  (1948) British. Directed by John Paddy Carstairs. Action aboard passenger cars and in steam locomotive cab.

CANADIAN PACIFIC (1949)  Randolph Scott, Jane Wyatt. Fictitious story about building of CPR, but filmed on location in Alberta or BC and authentic CPR 4-4-0. Technicolor.

A TICKET TO TOMAHAWK (1950), Anne Baxter, filmed on Rio Grande narrow gauge. Technicolor.

DENVER AND RIO GRANDE (1951) Edmond O'Brien, filmed on Rio Grande narrow gauge.

THE NARROW MARGIN (1952) A suspense film set aboard a transcontinental train, starring Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor, with numerous scenes in sleeping cars and the diner. Exterior scenes featured a Southern Pacific train pulled by one of their magnificent "Daylight" 4-8-4 locomotives. (Re-made about 30 years later, same title, with Gene Hackman and Anne Archer; given a contemporary setting and filmed on the British Columbia Railway.)

HUMAN DESIRE (1953)  Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford. American remake of LA BETE HUMAINE (THE HUMAN BEAST). Lots of good (diesel) scenes.

THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE (1956) True story of a Civil War event, filmed on a now-abandoned railway in Georgia, using two 4-4-0s of approximately the same period. Beautiful Technicolor photography, historically accurate so far as I know; almost documentary in its storytelling.

NIGHT PASSAGE (1957) James Stewart, Audie Murphy, Dan Duryea; train robber saga, filmed on the Rio Grande Silverton Branch; some excellent scenes. Technicolor.

IT HAPPENS TO JANE (1958) A comedy, starring a New Haven Mikado.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Wonderful scenes of New York's Grand Central Terminal, boarding the 20th Century Limited, scenes of the train heading alongside the Hudson River, and an accurate recreation of the interior of a NYC diner. At the end, a brief shot of an SP train entering a tunnel.

BITE THE BULLET (1975) Gene Hackman, also filmed on the Rio Grande narrow gauge.

TOUGH GUYS (1986)  Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Broderick Crawford. Scenes near end of SP 4449 4-8-4 and train.

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