Feature Comedy | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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Early railway travel in America. Hoop skirts, top hats and coachs waiting for the trains 1920's
Title card: "The Iron Mule. A humerous film of early American railway travel"
1830s. Two women and a man sitting underneath a sign "Likskillet" near railroad. Bicycle at the feet of one of the women. Pan over from them to show carriages (presumably train cars) with men standing around, trunks (luggage) at their feet. Also chickens.
Inter title card: "The Iron Mule was a rattling good engine - it sooted everybody." (ha ha)
Horse drawn carriage pulls in and a trunk is dropped off.
Card: "The conductor - so old-fashioned he gave every cent he collected to the company."
Older man in top hat, standing beside one of the carriages, is handed a card, where he proceeds to take out a hammer and tap a hole into it (punch card). Young woman helps conductor put on his jacket. Another driver(?) loads luggage onto a carriage. He talks to two other men beside him (one who punched the card, and another man with a mustache). The top hat man yells "All aboard!". The group of people at the beginning of the film, get on the train. The conductor talks to the young woman, he bows and she smiles and leaves. Top hat man sits on top of the last car and blows a horn to start the train. The jerking motion of the train causes him to topple off the back. One of the men rushes over to him and helps him get back on.
Card: "The Iron Mule had made the trip twice before - once on time - and once on the track."
Train is chugging along, but then conductor has to stop to shoo a cow off the tracks - he uses a stick. He gets back on and starts up the train. The jerking motion is dangerous as he straddles between 2 cars. Scene of train moving across hilltop. Shot of train from front looking back. Conductor is removing smoke stack then leaps off train and runs ahead of it as train goes into tunnel (tunnel not tall enough for train with smoke stack). As he carries it over the tunnel, the men sitting on top of the train, remove their hats and duck low.
He runs across the tunnel, slides down, waiting for the train. His hat falls off and rolls onto the tracks. He runs over to grab it. Train appears, he gets on and tosses smoke stack on. He reattaches it and gets back behind the brake. He stops the train to attend to another cow (same cow?) near the tracks. One of the male passenegers says:
Card: "We must be going some - we've caught up to that cow again."
Conductor uses his stick again to try to move the cow. Cow gets up and moves, conductor runs back to start train again. They travel along until they hit water. They stop and the conductor motions for the men to get off and tie logs to the train wheels. He flips up two bunches of straw on the front of the train so it doesn't get wet), used to clear the tracks as they go. He starts the train and it goes into the water and floats because of the logs. Conductor brings out two oars to row, while person at back has oar to steer. He reassures the passengers in his car. Train goes along river, past hills. They reach the other side and get out of the river no problem.
Card: "On through the night roared the Twenty-Centy Limited."
Shot of silhouette of train surrounded by steam chugging along.
They make a stop, sign says "Sassafras", couple cowboys waiting. Top hat man greets one of the new travellers with a bow. He hands him a card and they both go to the train. Another conductor snips and cleans up the mini brooms of the train with (pretty big) shears that he then puts back in his jacket(!) Cowboy ties horse up to back of carriage, sits down outside to keep an eye. When train starts moving again, horse doesn't want to move. Conductor waiting… then looks around and notices steam engine is going (wheels turning) but they're not moving because of the horse. He motions to the others to help with the horse. One of the passengers climbs out of the last carriage and tries to do something. Cowboy pushes him then tries to help him get his horse moving. Other men in other carriages get out, getting impatient. The two men try everything to move the horse but still nothing. Cowboy flips man over his horse. Conductor stops engine. Another passenger looks at the wheel and marks numbers in chalk(?) along the rim. Man tries to awkwardly mount horse but ends up hanging off his neck. Other passenegers look to the front engine, where man who was marking numbers calls them over. Men at back still fighting with horse. Conductor starts engine again which starts wheel turning. Man who marked the numbers essentially turned wheel into a makesift roulette wheel, where the men start betting. Wheel stops on a number and men are given some money. They watch the wheel and wait as conductor starts again. This continues on for a bit. Wife or mother of one of the men, realizes what he's doing and drags him back to carriage. The rest enjoy a long laugh. Conductor notices the other men betting. He joins them. Somehow horse becomes untied to train and it starts taking off unbeknownst to the others who are either still betting, or still dealing with the horse.
When one of the men tries to get back on the train, and it isn't there, they realize it's taken off. They run to the conductor (who still busy betting) and they all run after the train. Man grabs older woman and they run after the train. They fall and tumble many times. Woman starts throwing stones(?) at man as they run off.
Conductor grabs bicycle at Sassafras stop and starts riding. People on the train are waving frantically and yelling, woman is blowing a horn. There's now an Indian on the train (jumped on?) Conductor making his way down the tracks. More Indians are piling wood on tracks. They go hide. Conductor hits a rock and flips over, then continues running down hill. Train hits barricade and a man and woman fall off. As the woman is getting back into the carriage, arrows start flying as the Native Americans come out of hiding. A woman opens the carriage and sits on the step. Arrows fly into the door in front of her, so she grabs a gun. As she's trying to get it ready, arrows keep hitting the door until there's a lot of them. She grabs one to try to work the pistol. After a ton more arrows hit the door, she finally uses the gun. Conductor finally arrives and while dodging arrow, clears the wood off the tracks. Everyone piles into the carriage taking cover and shooting back. Conductor trying to break a stick across his knee but it won't break. He grabs an axe from an Indian who just happens to walk by, and knocks him out.
Film ends (which is too bad - wanted to know how it ended!)
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