Saturday, September 12, 2009

02. The Great Train Robbery (1903)

Running Time: 12 minutes
Directed By: Edwin S. Porter
Written By: Scott Marble, Edwin S. Porter
Main Cast: "Bronco Billy" Anderson, George Barnes, Walter Cameron, Frank Hanaway


Steven Jay Schneider proclaims in his text, that many people have challenged the fact that, The Great Train Robbery was the first western, on the grounds that it is either not a western or it simply wasn't the first. He retorts by saying that, while it may not actually be the first true Western, other Westerns that preceded it, lacked a fully developed narrative. And answers the claims that it's "not a Western" by saying: "...train robberies since the days of Jesse James have been a part of Western lore, and other elements such as six shooters, cowboy hats and horses all serve to give the film a genuine Western feel."

It certainly felt like a Western to me. In fact, one of the fun things about watching this completely silent short film (no music or anything) was making up a score in my head. I could hear the exciting, fast paced music as the robbers entered the telegraph station. I could hear the old-time, swinging saloon style music as the, yet unformed, posse danced the night away, and I could certainly hear the climax of the music pumping up as the robbers and the posse had their final shootout, in the middle of a wooded area.

Perhaps the greatest scene in the movie, came at the end, when one of the robbers fired point blank directly at the screen. A menacing man, with an evil looking mustache firing right at me, as I finished off the second film in my 1001 journey, was the cherry on top of a great film.


Yes. Again, I have to fault it for length, as it just wasn't long enough to really drag you in and hook you. It left me wanting more, as I could've gone on for much, much longer than 12 minutes. I hope you'll take the time to check this one out for yourself, as I've included a link to The Great Train Robbery at the bottom of this post. A great piece of cinema history, that I'm glad I was able to see, as I thought it was very gripping for such short length.

Rating: 7/10

NEXT UP: The Birth of A Nation...My introduction to Griffith

Link to The Great Train Robbery on Google Video

September 11, 2009 11:01pm


  1. Sounds like this one was very enjoyable and definately worth checking out.

  2. I had seen this some time ago, but I at last managed to purchase a copy to keep. And much to my dissapointment, it was a non-tinted version, without the gun flashes. I felt it lacked something for that. An odd comment from me, I am totally opposed to colourisation...
    As for the film it'self...Well, it's a great historical curiosity, but not much else. I personaly prefered 'trip to the moon' - if you can make any comparison...

  3. .. But I now also have the 'colour' version.


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