After commandeering a Confederate locomotive, heroic Yankee soldiers known as the Andrews Raiders try to bring about an early end to the Civil War by crippling the Southern railroad network. But their efforts are hampered ... more »by the unrelenting bravery of a single Rebel patriot.« less
"It's been many years since I had seen "The Great Locomotive Chase", and it was a real pleasure to watch it again. With so many other reviews, I don't think I need to summarize the plot.
Anchor Bay, as usual, has given us a DVD that is beautiful to look at, with only a few areas where the age of the film is apparent. This is widescreen and I can't imagine watching this film any other way. The sound is pretty much what you would expect for a 1956 release.
Fess Parker and Jeffrey Hunter are fine as the lead protagonists, with Jeff York also registering as one of Andrews' Raiders who would rather fight, than follow the "cloak and dagger" routine. Of course, York played Mike Fink--"King of the River"--opposite Fess Parker's Davy Crockett.
This movie is a dream for railroad buffs--old steam trains still provide a thrill for many people. It is also noteworthy for people interested in the civil war, being based on actual events, although I suspect history scholars might find it too superficial. However, the purpose of this movie is to entertain fans of all ages--not to get bogged down in too much detail.
Parents should find this movie a delight to watch with their children, especially young boys. The plot is not complicated--there is plenty of action--and while shots are fired, and some fists fly, there is none of the more graphic violence that today's films seem to wallow in.
Like other reviewers, I would have liked some "extras". Comments from Fess Parker--now a successful California wine-maker--added a lot to Disney's Davy Crockett collection. Mr. Parker's memories of this film would have been a nice plus. Sadly, Jeffrey Hunter passed away at a young age, during the 1960s. Perhaps some day there will be a "deluxe" edition from Disney--but, in the mean time, we must thank Anchor Bay for giving us this highly watchable version.
Again, recommended viewing for the whole family.
A very sad footnote, dated 20 March 2010. Mr. Fess Parker has passed away. I recall as a small boy in England seeing Davy Crockett, and being mesmerized by this tall, "straight-talkin' straight-shootin'" American, who was indisputably the "King of the Wild Frontier" ! Like millions of kids all over the world, I was soon running around with a coonskin cap, singing the Davy Crockett song. Thank you for the magical memories, Mr. Parker--God rest your soul."
Excellent Movie, Questionable Disney
C. A. Luster | Burke, VA USA | 04/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The movie is outstanding. Fess Parker and the rest turn in excellent performances. This exciting story is based on the true to life incident that took place during the Civil War. From what I have heard there were only a couple minor changes in the recreation of the story. Walt Disney made wonderful movies during the Fifties and Sixties that were great for the whole family to enjoy together. I am ecstatic they are now releasing these movies to DVD. My only complaint is that there seems to be an issue with quantity instead of quality. They seem more interested in releasing a great number of movies than worrying about the condition of them. Now I'm am as anxious as the next person to get all their live action movies out but I hope they start taking the time to realize they need to monitor the quality control. I don't need the extras on this first release. Once they have released all the movies they use to run on "The Wonderful World of Disney" then they can go back and do Platinum Editions. I will be satisfied with just the movie since there are so many more they need to release like "Dr. Syn, alias Scarecrow" and "The Swamp Fox" that I can be satisfied with just the basics but I want the movie to have sharp picture and sound quality. Some of the recent live action movies have been great quality (e.g. Three Lives of Thomasina) and some have been poor (e.g. "The Journey of Natty Gann). I hope someone from Disney is paying attention to Amazons reviews because if they don't they may find their DVDs aren't selling so well. Fortunately this DVD picture and sound quality are nicely restored. There are no extra features."
Excellent Film, Disappointing DVD
C. A. Luster | 05/09/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Read the other reviews for a plot synopsis. Be aware that this film is presented in "Letterbox" widescreen, not anamorphic (although the menu pages & even the copyright warning page are anamorphic widescreen). The picture quality is mediocre, as is the sound. I thought that Disney (who released the original film to the theaters in 1956) would treat this film with some respect, but alas, as seems to be happening with all major studios' DVD releases now, they appear to be taking the cheapest way out. The film is a very good historical action piece that deserves better, especially from Disney. I just hope they treat the upcoming Davey Crockett release better."
Great for train and civil war buffs
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 11/28/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Making: This motion picture was made during Walt Disney's passion period for trains. Walt participated personally in the filming, being onsite (if only so that he could run the locomotives!). The Story A stirring and true story, the movie accurately depicts a team of Union soldiers sneak behind enemy lines. Their objective: steal a locomotive and steam north, burning bridges and tearing up track and telegraph lines behind them. Led by Andrews, they do not count on a relentless pursuit by the conductor of the stolen train (played by Jeff Hunter.) Fess Parker is fine as the spy-leader Andrews, and the cast is well rounded out. Plenty of live locomotive action (great care was taken on the detail of the steam era) this is also a rousing Adventure story. Joe Foss The surviving members of the Union team were the first recipients of the Medal of Honor."
A great locomotive chase plus a daring prison break
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The story of Andrew's Raiders and their adventures during the Civil War had served as the basis for Buster Keaton's classic silent comedy "The General." In 1956 Walt Disney produced a more serious and more historically accurate account with the studio's new star Fess Parker as James J. Andrews. A Union spy, Andrews puts together a group of volunteers who will pretend they are on their way to join the Confederate army, board a passenger train, and steal it. However, once they succeed in stealing a train they have to put up with its conductor, William A. Fuller (Jeffrey Hunter), who pursues them so relentlessly that you end up forgetting he is not the hero of this particular story. Despite all the obstacles they through as their pursuer, such as uncoupling a car to send rolling back at the other train and burning another car in the middle of a bridge, Andrews and his men are finally forced to abandon the train. However, they are all captured and now have to plot a daring escape from the Confederate stockade. "The Great Locomotive Chase," directed by Francis D. Lyon, was filmed in beautiful county in northern Georgia on tracks that paralleled the actual route taken by the Andrews Raiders. You want to make sure you pick up the widescreen version that reflects the original CinemaScope proportions becuse there are several shots that take full advantage of the larger dimensions. What is most impressive about Lawrence E. Watkin's screenplay is not just the lengthy chase sequence but the fact that the Confederate conductor comes across as much of a hero as the Andrews himself. Whether you are an enthusiast of trains and/or a Civil War buff, this is an enjoyable film. Get a hold of "The General" and do a double-feature!"