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The Great Train Robbery (1903)

The Great Train Robbery is a 1903 American Western film by Edwin S. Porter. Twelve minutes long, it is considered a milestone in film making, expanding on Porter's previous work Life of an American Fireman.The Great Train Robbery (1903)

The film used a number of innovative techniques including cross cutting, double exposure composite editing, camera movement and on location shooting. Cross-cuts were a new, sophisticated editing technique. Some prints were also hand colored in certain scenes.

None of the techniques were original to The Great Train Robbery, and it is now considered that it was heavily influenced by Frank Mottershaw's earlier British film A Daring Daylight Burglary.

The movie was directed and photographed by Edwin S. Porter, a former Edison Studios cameraman.

Actors in the movie included Alfred C. Abadie, Broncho Billy Anderson and Justus D. Barnes, although there were no credits. 

Though a Western, it was filmed in Milltown, New Jersey.  The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Storyline
The clerk at the train station is assaulted and left tied by four men, then they rob the train threatening the operator. They take all the money and shoot a passenger when trying to run away.  A little girl discovers the clerk tied and gives notice to the sheriff, who at once goes along with his men hunting the bandits.

Film Facts
The film’s budget was an estimated $150 ($3,300 in today's dollars).

The film was originally distributed with a note saying the famous shot of the bandit firing his gun at the camera could be placed either at the beginning or at the end of the film, or both. Most modern prints put it at the end.

Justus D. Barnes is the Bandit Who Fires at Camera (unaccredited)

More History

 
 


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