Silver Streak (1976 film)

From Academic Kids

Silver Streak is a 1976 comedy film starring Gene Wilder, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Pryor, Patrick McGoohan and Ned Beatty and directed by Arthur Hiller.

Publisher George Caldwell (Wilder) is traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago on the titular train, Silver Streak. Caldwell falls in love with secretary Hilly Burns (Clayburgh) but also bears witness to the murder of Burns' boss and, after being thrown off the train by some the murderers' thugs, must enlist the help of a thief (Pryor) to save their lives.

Trivia

While loosely based on Amtrak trains, Amtrak was not involved with the filming of the movie. All exterior train shots were filmed on the Canadian Pacific railway line in Alberta despite ostensibly being set in the United States, and operated by the fictional railroad "AMRoad". The film features some beautiful train operations, scenery, and lots of "action" shots, as the protagonist and allies battle the bad guys on board and on top of the train, and get thrown off or jump on and off the moving train amazingly often. Most of the interior station scenes are of Union Station in Toronto, Ontario.

The name "Silver Streak" was termed by the news media reporting on the record setting 1934 trip of the Pioneer Zephyr, the first passenger train which featured a stainless steel consist. On that famous trip, the Pioneer Zephyr was also headed for Chicago, but at a much faster average speed of 77 miles per hour. Of course, no murders or other spectacular events featured in the movie are known to have taken place on the 1934 inaugural run.

The spectacular ending when the train arrives at Union Station (Chicago) was apparently inspired by the wreck of the 16-car Federal Express at Union Station (Washington, DC) on , the morning of January 15, 1953 (see link). At the time, it was the most spectacular modern runaway passenger train wreck. When brake couplings failed, the train skidded for two miles and passed right through the stationmaster's office at the end of track 16 at a speed estimated at 30 to 50 mph, demolishing it, but miraculously killing no one.

An earlier film Silver Streak starring Charles Starrett was made in 1934 using the Pioneer Zephyr trainset. The 1934 film has little in common with the 1976 film of the same name, and also differs somewhat from the trip on the original "Silver Streak" Zephyr that same year.

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