Railways in Movies: North by Northwest

from north to northwest

Newly dressed passengers walk past the New York Central’s 20th Century Limited observation car at Grand Central Terminal in New York City in 1962. New York Central

from north to northwest is a true cinematic classic and is considered one of the best of its genre. Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this American spy thriller stars Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and the New York Central Railroad. It takes place in 1959 in Manhattan. The main character, Roger O. Thornhill, happens to be a Madison Avenue businessman who finds himself embroiled in a case of mistaken identity.

While he is a proponent of the three-martini lunch, Russian agents see him as a master American spy whom they must eliminate. Thornhill tries to escape, they chase him and he boards the New York Central 20e limited century at Grand Central Terminal; destination Chicago.

This early part of the film sets the stage for escaping the police, the Russians making their way to Chicago and then sprinting through the county. The highlight occurs at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. While Chicago is the end – almost – for train fans, it’s definitely worth watching.

Not that anyone needs to be persuaded to watch from north to northwestbut the real treat for fans is the extensive train sequences between New York and Chicago.

As part of the production, the camera crews painstakingly captured much of the first part of the route between Grand Central Terminal and Albany, NY, including several open shots of the train’s Dutch gate running along the Hudson River. The extra effort lends an air of authenticity that you only occasionally see in Hollywood. Even Chicago’s LaSalle Street Railroad Station gets its due.

In general, from north to northwest gives today’s audience a view of New York City from over 60 years ago. As a special treat, you’ll notice that one of the best railroads in North America has demonstrated how to treat passengers with the best rail service possible.

Now remember Chicago was “almost” the last of the train sequences? At the very end of the film, romance is in the air as the good guys – and gals – are once again aboard what we assume to be the 20e limited century. However, the production needed a train fence shot.

Presumably not wanting to return to New York on location, the studio hired a passenger train from Southern Pacific and filmed it plunging through a tunnel in Chatsworth, California. The lettering on the locomotives has been repainted, but purists will often recognize this. tunnel used in Hollywood movies.

On a scale of one to ten choo-choos, the movie is a 9½ and the train scenes are a 10.

train coming out of the tunnel
Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4452 emerges from a tunnel near Chatsworth, California, January 13, 1949. Donald Sims

About Jun Quentin

Check Also

State awards $11 million to clean heavy-duty vehicle projects

An electric hybrid heavy truck. Photo: Dennis Schroeder/National Renewable Energy Laboratory More than $11 million …