The 1924 blockbuster that launched John Ford into Hollywood's emerging A-list of directors, The Iron Horse is an epic mythification of the American railroad's birth: a rambunctious blend of historical drama and Western actioner, revenge story and saloon comedy, noble biopic and all-bets-off tall tale.
Neighbour to the pre-presidential Abe Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, young Davy Brandon accompanies his father westward to realise the elder's dream of a rail line bridging the ends of the continent. Years after Brandon Sr.'s murder and scalping by a two-fingered Cheyenne half-breed, the adult David (played by George O'Brien, three years before his lead role in Sunrise, here in the first of ten films he made with Ford) joins in the effort now underway to lay track and accommodate "the iron horse". Once more stir the blood and butterflies of Davy's past as Ford guides his characters' fates towards final convergence, like the merging of the tracks from east and west.
With its expressive compositional prowess, incredible stunt work, and generous humour, The Iron Horse anticipates the bounteous universe that Ford would go on to calibrate perfectly in his greatest works. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present The Iron Horse in its US, full-length version for the first time on DVD in the UK.
The first smash hit in the career of one of Hollywood's greatest and most enduringly popular directors: John Ford (The Searchers, Stagecoach, The Quiet Man, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, etc.), The Iron Horse was one of the great blockbusters of Hollywood's silent era, with over 6000 extras at work on the film, it is the grandfather of all Westerns.
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Took a while to arrive but well worth it for the quality of the print, and the exceptional price. Full marks almost.
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