The Iron Horse (1924)

The Iron Horse


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A dynamic young man whose father initiated the U.S. transcontinental railroad becomes a pony-express rider and aids in completing the cross-country rail, as well as meting out justice to the schemer responsible for his father's death. This classic John Ford silent western set the standards for hundreds to follow.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Western, Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: John Russell, Charles Kenyon
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 14, 2006



as Davy Brandon

as Davy (younger)

as Miriam Marsh

as Miriam (younger)

as Abraham Lincoln

as Peter Jesson

as Deroux

as Judge Haller

as Sgt. Slattery

as Private Schultz

as Wild Bill Hickok

as Maj. North

as Collis P. Huntington

as Charles Crocker

as Polka Dot

as Abraham Lincoln

as Sioux Chief

as Cheyenne Chief

as Old Chinaman

as Buffalo Bill Cody

as Thomas Marsh

as David Brandon, Sr.
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Iron Horse

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Critic Reviews for The Iron Horse

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 7, 2002
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Mid-level Ford, full of both interest and faults.

Full Review… | April 1, 2013
Classic Film and Television

John Ford's first American epic is not a birth of a nation, but its physical and symbolic unification in the wake of the Civil War.

Full Review… | August 11, 2010
Parallax View

Audience Reviews for The Iron Horse


The message of this movie: John Ford is in love with Abraham Lincoln.

Why do some silent films have to be so long? Honestly. It's hard enough to watch silent film sometimes, but it can be really challenging when the movies spans over two-and-a-half hours. Thank goodness the movie was pretty solid.

I accidentally watched two Transcontinental Railroad movies in a week. I'm probably the first person to ever write that sentence. But according to the 501 Must See Movies, I had to see both of these. The Brit who probably wrote this this is an American history nerd who thought the expansion of the West was fodder for great filmmaking. Luckily, he picked some amazing movies. The only weird part is that they both tell history slightly different. (Take that, Critical Literacy!) In Union Pacific, the story implies that the Union Pacific made it to the destination first. The Iron Horse straight up says that the Central Pacific made it to its destination first. Who to believe? NO ONE!

The Iron Horse has a lot less character drama in it compared to Union Pacific. That's really unfortunate, because Union Pacific is really a fun movie while this one is kind of left to "good" movie. It's a lot more of the "hows" of how the Transcontinental Railroad was made and not the people. Yes, there's the story of Brandon, which is really the most interesting part, but he has to share half-the-film with the technical aspects. Unlike Tora! Tora! Tora!, at least the historical aspects are really interesing and people do flips on horses and stuff. (Rather than just talk...*groan*.)

Again, for a silent film, this movie does look pretty fantastic. There's some cool shots of horse chases and some interesting improvized fist fights. I am happy that I've seen Union Pacific first simply because it explained why people wanted to destroy the railroad. Ford doesn't so much explain why people don't want the railroad to exist, we're just supposed to know our history. Sorry, despite the degree, I don't know everything.

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