The Great Locomotive Chase is a 1956 American historical adventure film produced by Walt Disney. It was based on the real locomotive chase of 1862 which occurred during the American Civil War.
Walt was a history buff and so it is not uncommon to find a film like this in his ‘canon’. It also afforded him the opportunity to reuse one of his favorite actors, Fess Parker, of Davy Crocket fame.
To be clear, I did not rip anything out of anything. I wouldn’t do that! I merely purchased it from someone else who did. Of course, being as this page comes from 1956, I think we can be forgiven this minor bout of vandalism!
I love finding pieces of old advertising like this magazine page. It’s always interesting to see how a film was marketed and to see the great artwork that was used. Let’s have a closer look at the primary cast:
The films main star is Fess Parker as James J. Andrews, the leader of a group of Union soldiers who volunteered to go behind Confederate lines in civilian clothes. The mission was to steal a Confederate train and drive it back to Union lines. To discourage interference, they tore up railroad tracks and destroyed bridges and telegraph lines along the way.
No coon skin caps were worn during the making of this film.
The production would have been especially exciting for Walt as it featured not one, but four, authentic steam locomotives! The steam engine upon whose exploits the film is based, the General, was represented in the film by the William Mason locomotive, built in 1856 but preserved in operating condition in Baltimore, Maryland, to this day.
Jeff Hunter plays William A. Fuller in the film, but you may remember him for his later television role, where he played Captain Christopher Pike in the original 1965 pilot episode of Star Trek.
The film reteamed Fess Parker with Jeff York, who had portrayed Mike Fink (King of the River) in the 1954-1955 Davy Crockett miniseries. York even gets another great song to sing with “I Stole A Locomotive Just to Take a Ride ‘Cause My Daddy Was A Railroading Man”. Well, okay then!
John Lupton plays another William in the film, this time William Pittenger. But it wasn’t to be his only Disney film appearance. He later acted in The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973) as the race starter, The Whiz Kid and the Carnival Caper (1976), The Young Runaways (1978), and The Secret of Lost Valley (1980). Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of these films as they weren’t exactly blockbusters, with some released directly to television.
And there you have it. For just $5.00 CAN I have a great piece of ephemera to add to my growing stack of paper collectibles.
FUN FACTS: Ephemera, in case you were wondering, are items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.