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Old 29-07-2006, 09:20   #1
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The Iron Horse

I was feeling pretty chuffed with my BFI DVD of John Ford's "The Iron Horse" when I happened across a review on DVD Beaver that mentions that the BFI version is supposedly an inferior version of the film - using different takes from the original.

The BFI edition is the only one I can find though. Are there any other versions out there, or any that are lined up for release in the new future?

Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 29-07-2006, 14:10   #2
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I was intrigued by that review as well.

I have watched the Iron Horse countless times and the more times I watch it, I always find it that Sergio Leone incorporated lots of into his own Once Upon A Time in the West, going so far as using John Ford actors.

I'll watch it tonight yet again.
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Old 29-07-2006, 22:16   #3
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It looks like the BFI is the only show in town at the moment. Their print may be the European version, which is said to be different from the American release. This link has some information: http://www.silentera.com/PSFL/data/I/IronHorse1924.html

I could only find one other old edition on VHS in the States, but no details as to which version it is.
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Old 30-07-2006, 23:56   #4
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I hadn't actually thought of searching VHS. The one that comes up on Amazon.com apparently has a 150m running time, compared to a reported 134m for the BFI one on Amazon.co.uk, so it could be the different version. If anyone on here knows which for sure I'd appreciate you letting me know, otherwise I'll just have to import it and see for myself.

Watching the BFI version tonight, I noticed a few shots which look like they could be sloppily included second takes, as DVD Beaver suggested. One particular shot stood out at 2:03:31 where O'Brien seems to be staring directly into the camera waiting for Ford to yell 'Action'. If the link works you should be able to see a couple of frames of it below....

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Old 31-07-2006, 15:28   #5
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Hard to know about the VHS. I haven't found anything to confirm if it is the US version.

The 150 minute running time is given in several places, but I suspect they all got it from Movies Unlimited's own site. I'd be wary of this, it's probably the same film played slower. The BFI time looks right for an eleven reel picture.
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Old 31-07-2006, 21:54   #6
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I contacted a couple of sellers on Amazon. One was out of stock but another told me that:
Quote:
We are limited to the information supplied by the manufacturer in these cases. What I can tell you is that this is the Critic's Choice release. The print is from the Killiam library. This release is out-of-print and is closeout product. I know there is a custom score, but the sleeve does not say by whom. It doesn't even say if it's organ or orchestral.
I tried doing a search for info on the Paul Killiam version, but couldn't find anything useful. Do you happen to know anything about this version? Apparently it was something produced for a run of 12 silent movies on some cable channel.
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Old 31-07-2006, 21:55   #7
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Thanks for keeping us updated about this
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Old 01-08-2006, 11:45   #8
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Now we're getting somewhere! I found a bit on IMDB which sheds some light:

"Television history to THE IRON HORSE began when it became one of the movies from the Paul Killiam collection to air on public television's 12-week series of "The Silent Years" (June-September 1975), hosted by Lillian Gish. In her profile about THE IRON HORSE (accompanied by an excellent piano score by William Perry), Gish talks about its location filming in the Nevada desert, the use of 100 cooks to feed the huge cast, and 5,000 extras consisting of 3,000 railway workers, 1,000 Chinese laborers, many horses and steers, etc. Decades later, THE IRON HORSE made it to the American Movie Classics cable channel (1997-1999) accompanied by an orchestral score and 15 minutes longer than its 119 minutes length from "The Silent Years." Distributed onto video cassette through Critic's Choice in 1997, the same print and piano score taken from "The Silent Years," it's currently seen on The Westerns Channel. DVD format available."

Another mention of the Critic's Choice video on Cineweb confirms that it is the US version:

"The Iron Horse (1924) is John Ford's epic of the construction of the transcontinental railroad starring George O'Brien and Madge Bellamy. Tinted, with a piano score by William Perry. This is the American release version of the film with an introductory tribute to Abraham Lincoln."

Paul Killiam did a series years ago called "Silents Please" which was my intro to silent movies. His work was fairly reliable. If the tape is at a decent price, it might well be worth a shot.

Don't part with the BFI version, though, I believe it could be going out of print.

Last edited by Frank Maher; 01-08-2006 at 13:51.
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Old 02-08-2006, 21:34   #9
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Thanks for the info. I've ordered it from MoviesUnlimited.com, so I'll be report any major differences after I've watched it (this could be a while - they were unable to provide a delivery estimate).
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