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Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip
Horatio's Drive America's First Road Trip
Actors: Keith David, Tom Hanks, Adam Arkin, Tom Bodett, Philip Bosco
Director: Ken Burns
Genres: Action & Adventure, Documentary
NR     2003     1hr 47min

Horatio's Drive recounts the simultaneously inspirational and hilarious saga of Horatio Nelson Jackson, an eccentric Vermont doctor, who in 1903 - on a visionary whim and a 50-dollar bet - became the first person to drive ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Keith David, Tom Hanks, Adam Arkin, Tom Bodett, Philip Bosco
Director: Ken Burns
Creators: Allen Moore, Ken Burns, Craig Mellish, Dayton Duncan, Pam Tubridy Baucom, Susanna Steisel
Genres: Action & Adventure, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Biography, History
Studio: PBS Home Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/30/2003
Original Release Date: 10/06/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 10/06/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Putting your money behind your beliefs
B. SMITH | Effingham Illinois | 02/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In 1903,Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson, overheard a comment in a San Francisco mens' club that the horseless carriage would never be more than a toy . He promptly bet $50.00 that he could drive across the country in 90 days. this is the amazing story of how he spent over $8000.00 of his own money to win this bet which he then never collected. Others had tried before, but he was the first to succeed. Many talk about new technology but very few like the Wright Brothers, Lindbergh and Dr. Jackson are willing to risk their own money and reputations to support their belief in a new technology. Overall the usual outstanding Ken Burns documentary, entertaining and educational. This is what PBS does best."
A small morsel of entertainment!
V. Cruz | Ontario, Ca. | 04/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"What an enjoyable story; captured by Burns with re-creation segments and old photos. Truly a morsel of entertainment at 2 hours instead of Burns' usual 10+ hours of detailed versions of history.
This story has a brisk beginning, a surprising middle and a satisfiable ending. I can't say enough of this piece, just that if you haven't seen it, then get it and enjoy. Oh, yes I should power up my dvd player and put on this gem for a 2 hour joy ride.
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 05/06/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip tells the incredible, fascinating story of the first transcontinental crossing by automobile back in 1903. Horatio Nelson Jackson (who is voiced very nicely by Tom Hanks) believed that the car, and not the horse, was in fact the way of the future and that it could easily make the horse and buggy obsolete. Horatio certainly believed that the car was more than a toy, which is what all of his colleagues thought at the time! The storyline moves along nicely and the footage of Horatio's two granddaughters is absolutely wonderful and informative. Keith David narrates and Dayton Duncan's comments add color to the story as well. The movie uses many still photos taken during the cross-country journey and the footage of early vehicles over one hundred years ago is captivating. The script was well written and this is a documentary that really stands out as being memorable.

Horatio Nelson Jackson, a retired but still quite young doctor, had the wisdom and the foresight to realize that the automobile was not a mere fad that would go away and that it would indeed render the horse and carriage quite useless--and in the very foreseeable future, too. Without any planning for the trip whatsoever--and even without a car, Nelson made a fifty dollar bet with a colleague that he could get from San Francisco to New York in less than ninety days. Within four days Nelson found a Wilton car which he modified to let it carry provisions for the historic trip; and he hired mechanic Sewell Crocker to accompany him. Horatio's wife Bertha (aka "Swipes") gave him her blessing before she returned--by train--to their home in Vermont; and off Nelson went! Nelson even bought a bulldog named "Bud" to go along for the ride at one of the stops he and Sewell made along the way.

Of course, the trip was anything but easy; but Nelson's never-ending optimism and courage kept his mind on the goal. Nelson always told his wife in letters that "the worst is over" even though it really wasn't until they finally reached New York City; this voyage was undertaken in an age when cars were new and very unreliable. Indeed, there were countless times that Horatio and Sewell had to get out and fix the car; and they lost quite a bit of time just waiting for parts to come while they were stuck in a town or a city somewhere. Moreover, there was the additional stress Nelson and Sewell were under when they soon discovered that there were two other teams of men essentially racing them to be the first to reach New York City from San Francisco by car!

I could tell you more; but then I'd be giving much too much away. Suffice it to say that Nelson's story is unforgettable and that the film uses still photos and stock footage to great advantage. The DVD also comes with a short "making of" featurette and there are three extra scenes presented as outtakes.

I highly recommend this documentary on DVD, especially for people interested in the history of early automobile travel and how travel in general was such an integral part of making the United States such a large country today. We see the dawn of the American "road trip;" and old car buffs will also love this film."