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The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery is a 1903 American silent short Western film made by Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Manufacturing Company. It follows a gang of outlaws who hold up and rob a steam locomotive at a station in the American West, flee across mountainous terrain, and are finally defeated by a posse of locals. The short film draws on many sources, including a robust existing tradition of Western films, recent European innovations in film technique, the play of the same name by Scott Marble, the popularity of train-themed films, and possibly real-life incidents involving outlaws such as Butch Cassidy.

Plot

Two bandits break into a railroad telegraph office, where they force the operator at gunpoint to have a train stopped and to transmit orders for the engineer to fill the locomotive's tender at the station's water tank. They then knock the operator out and tie him up. As the train stops it is boarded by the banditsnow four. Two bandits enter an express car, kill a messenger, and open a box of valuables with dynamite. In a fight on the engine car, the others kill the fireman and force the engineer to halt the train and disconnect the locomotive. The bandits then force the passengers off the train and rifle them for their belongings. One passenger tries to escape but is instantly shot down. Carrying their loot, the bandits escape in the locomotive, later stopping in a valley where their horses had been left.

Awards