Sunday, June 24, 2012

Silent Sundays: The Iron Horse (1924)



“He feels the momentum of a great nation pushing westward he sees the inevitable.”  

            The Iron Horse is a film where the direction is excellent in every single way but the film itself is not entertaining or very good. I am not a fan of westerns as I have mentioned several times whenever I have actually watched a western. Sometimes depending on whom the actors are in the films they have not been so bad but this one I could not get past it being a boring western.
            The film takes place in the mid-1800s. A man named Brandon has a dream of surveying the west to help build a railroad that will stretch through the whole country. He has a young son named Davy. Davy and his friend Miriam pretend to survey on the day that he is leaving with his father. Their parting is sad because they were best friends. Sometime later in the Cheyenne territory Davy’s father is killed by Indians. One of the Indians is a white man with two fingers.
            Years later Davy and Miriam have not seen each other since the day he left. Miriam has traveled with her father out west where he has been helping to build the great railroad that will connect the country. Traveling by train to another town Miriam and her father see a pony express rider being attacked by Indians. The rider manages to get to the train safely. The rider is Davy and he realizes who Miriam is.
            Davy has become a surveyor like his father and has dreamed of laying the tracks for the railroad in a pass for his father ever since he was killed. He volunteers his services to Miriam’s father Mr. Marsh. Marsh’s other surveyor and Miriam’s fiancé Jesson has been tempted with more money by another man named Bauman not to lay the tracks down through the pass. He goes out to the pass with Davy and cuts the man’s ropes as he travels down a mountain side. Davy does not die he landed in some tree branches. Jesson travels back to tell Marsh that Davy has been killed. Now the tracks will have to be routed around the pass.
            Davy comes back and asks why the tracks are being rerouted. Bauman is not happy that Davy is back and neither is Jesson.
            To make a long story short- Bauman was the white Indian with two fingers who killed Davy’s father and is killed by the young man, a big time battle between the workers and the Indians breaks out and of course the Indians lose. Davy and Miriam get together.
            I have been finding with the silent films I have been watching lately that they are very long and very drawn out. The main stories are always broken up with comedic scenes from the supporting characters and to me they take away from the main plot of the story and are only distractions. If they were truly funny and worked with the plot they would not bother me but the scenes are not funny and they bring the films down.
            The Iron Horse was a very slow film and a western which I am not crazy about but it was still very well made and even acted. John Ford made some brilliant shots and really captured the essence of the west in that time period. Sure it is not historically accurate as it claims to be in the beginning but what film ever is. I would recommend seeing The Iron Horse but do not go crazy looking for it.