The Great Locomotive Chase (1956)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Adventure, Family-Oriented Adventure  |   Release Date - Jun 8, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Mike Cummings

This 1956 Walt Disney production reunites Fess Parker and Jeff York, two of the stars of Disney's celebrated TV series about American frontier hero Davy Crockett, filmed in 1954 and 1956. That production -- featuring Parker as canny woodsman Crockett and York as blowhard boatman Mike Fink -- delighted audiences with its tall tales, folksy humor, and exciting action. It even spawned a nationwide Crockett craze that had every kid wearing a coonskin cap and whistling the series theme song. Unfortunately, The Great Locomotive Chase has little of the down-home charm or mischievous spirit of the Crockett series. Unimaginative acting is one of the main reasons. York, in particular, is a drag. Though never a first-rate actor, the whole nation loved him as braggart Fink in the Crockett chronicles. He could outfight, outshoot, and outdrink anybody. But in The Great Locomotive Chase, he is merely sullen rebel hater William Campbell, with no more depth of emotion -- and no more humor -- than a railroad spike. The performances of Parker (James J. Andrews) and Jeffrey Hunter (William A. Fuller) are satisfactory, and the rest of the cast is average at best. Of course, York, Parker, and Hunter did not exactly have a prize-winning script to inspire them. The writing is pedestrian, and the situations are full of hyped bravado. However, the fleeing and pursuing Civil War-era locomotives perform well, spouting billows of smoke and generating several moments of adventure and suspense.