Westerns and Technology, Part 2

Nicholas Chennault ~ October 17, 2014

Westerns, Technology and Manifest Destiny, Part 2

TechWEstGoldenSpike

A.J. Russell’s famous photograph of the driving of the golden spike on completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah, in 1869.

This is the second of two posts on technology as depicted in westerns.  The previous post described in general terms how westerns have treated the push westward of both population and such technologies as railroads and telegraphs during the 19th century.  Now we get more specific, with lists of movies in which such technologies and business form a significant element.

As always the lists below have likely left out some examples.  If you can think of others that belong, leave a comment.

TechWestCIPrairie1871

1871 print by Currier & Ives, featuring “Prairie Fires of the Great West.”  And what would a prairie fire be without a train?

Technological Expansion Westerns, Mostly Featuring Railroads

The Iron Horse (1924; Dir: Ford)
The Telegraph Trail–Wayne (1933)
Wells Fargo—McCrea, Dee (1937)
Union Pacific—McCrea, Stanwyck, Preston (1941; Dir:  DeMille)
Western Union—Scott, Young, Jagger (telegraph, 1941; Dir:  Lang)
Whispering Smith—Ladd, Preston (1948)
Canadian Pacific—Scott, Wyatt (1949)
A Ticket to Tomahawk—Dailey, Baxter, Calhoun (1950)
Carson City—Scott, Massey (1952; Dir: De Toth)
Denver and Rio Grande—Hayden, O’Brien, Jagger (1952)
Kansas Pacific—Hayden (1953; Dir: Nazarro)
Pony Express—Heston (1953)
Overland Pacific—Mahoney, Castle (1954; Dir: Sears)
Rails Into Laramie—Payne (1954)
Santa Fe—Scott (1951)
How the West Was Won—Stewart, Peppard et al. (1962)
Scalplock—Robertson (1966)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968; Dir: Leone)

TechWestCassidyPosse

The special posse led by lawman Joe LeFors that set out after Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch after their train robbery at Tipton, Wyoming, on August 29, 1900.  It didn’t catch them.

Train Robbing Westerns

The Great Train Robbery (1903, Dir. Porter)
The Great K & A Train Robbery (1926, Dir: Seiler)
Most historically-based movies about Jesse James
Dodge City (1939)
The Return of Frank James (1940)
Whispering Smith (1948)
Colorado Territory (1948)
Rage at Dawn (1955)
Night Passage (1957)
Cat Ballou (1965)
Shenandoah (1965)
The Professionals (1966)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Wild Bunch (1969)

The Five Man Army (1970)
Rio Lobo (1970)
One More Train to Rob (1971)
Red Sun (1971)
The Train Robbers (1973)
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)
Posse (1975)
The Frisco Kid (1979)
The Long Riders (1980)
The Grey Fox (1982)
American Outlaws (2001)
The Lone Ranger (2013)

TechWestLoneRangerWreck

One of the three train crashes in The Lone Ranger, 2013.

Train Crashes

Dodge City (1939)
Union Pacific (1941, two crashes)
Duel in the Sun (1946)
Whispering Smith (1948)
Denver and Rio Grande (1952)
The Spoilers (1955)
How the West Was Won (1962)
Custer of the West (1967)
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969)
100 Rifles (1969)
Rio Lobo (1970)
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Joe Kidd (1972)
Breakheart Pass (1975)
The Wild Wild West (1999)
The Legend of Zorro (2005)
The Lone Ranger (2013, three crashes)

Catching Trains

High Noon (1952)
Dawn at Socorro (1954)
3:10 to Yuma (original, 1957, and remake, 2007)
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)

Train Chases

The General (1926)
Rails into Laramie (1954)
The Great Locomotive Chase (1956)
The Lone Ranger (2013)

Private Trains

Cat Ballou (1965)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Posse (1975)
The Lone Ranger (2013)

BiteBulletCycle

Hackman and Coburn are forced to use modern technology in Bite the Bullet.

Motorcycles in the Changing West

Big Jake (1971)
Bite the Bullet (1975)

Automobiles in the Changing West

The Moonlighter (1953)
Ride the High Country (1962)
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969)
Big Jake (1971)
The Shootist (1976)

TechWestWayneBike

John Wayne and an unusual steed in 1970, when he was filming Big Jake, a western set in 1909.

Steampunk Elements in Westerns

The Wild Wild West (1999)
Jonah Hex (2010)
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

TechWestWildBranagh

A steampunk Kenneth Branagh in The Wild, Wild West, 1999.

 

 

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  • Jacob Sorensen

    Would Back to the Future III count in the Train Crash category? Maybe Train Chase and Steam Punk elements (ice cube machine & time-traveling train) too.

  • Zathras

    Great list! I’m wringing my brain out to come up with all the Westerns I own that feature trains in some capacity (ew, I bet he doesn’t have that one!) and darn it if you haven’t got em all. Excellent work.
    PS The pic of Wayne on a motorbike is a big smile – trying to recognise the brand, is it… a Hondo?