The Great Train Robbery

Movie Details

DirectorEdwin S. Porter
Key CastGilbert M. “Bronco Billy” Anderson, Marie Murray, George Barnes, Frank Hanaway, A.C. Abadie
MPAA RatingNot Rated
Film TypeBlack and White
Genre(s)Western, Silent Film, Short, Action, Crime
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“The Great Train Robbery” was the first Western film ever made.

This Thomas Edison production was directed by Edwin S. Porter and starred Broncho Billy as one of the actors.
A short film, “The Great Train Robbery” is not what movie fans of today are used to seeing because they are accustomed to longer cowboy features with more stunts, fighting and sound effects. But in its day, “The Great Train Robbery” was unlike any other film that people in 1903 had ever seen, and this western became the launching pad for the western movie industry.
Only 12 minutes long, “The Great Train Robbery’s” impact has lasted for decades.
The storyline is very simple. A gang of robbers holdup the local train and its passengers. When people in the town find out, they form a posse and chase them down.
(For even more details about this historically important silent western, click here to read our movie profile of “The Great Train Robbery.”)

• “The Great Train Robbery” is the first movie to ever tell a story. It launched the Western movie genre and is also credited with opening the door for profitable moviemaking in the country.
• The final shot of a gun being fired toward the camera had a profound effect on audiences. As cinema was in its infancy, many people who saw the film thought that they were actually about to be shot.
• The first Western movie star, Bronco Billy Anderson, has a couple of cameo roles in “The Great Train Robbery.” After doing the film, Anderson says that he knew that he wanted to be involved with making these types of movies for the rest of his life.
• Part of the appeal of “The Great Train Robbery” is because it was based on real robberies that were done in the West. One of the most famous of these was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s robbery of the Union Pacific Railroad in Table Rock, Wyoming. This train holdup was still on theatre goers minds when they went to see the film which added its impact on viewers.
• American inventor, Thomas Edison, was the owner of the film production company that made “The Great Train Robbery.” Thomas Edison’s company made the equipment that the film was shown on and he formed the production company to make movies so that he could sell more equipment.
• “The Great Train Robbery” was selected in 1990 to the U.S. Library of Congress, National Film Registry.


The Great Train Robbery

This silent western took the nation by storm when it was first shown in 1903.   It is the first western movie ever made and is one of the few western films to be selected to the U.S. Library of Congress National Film Registry.  

Saddles, Saloons and Six-Shooters DVD

Saddles, Saloons and Six-Shooters

“The Great Train Robbery” is available in this special western DVD set that contains 14 classic Western films released between 1903 and 1961.   The names of the westerns in this DVD set are: Abilene Town (1946) Arizona Bound (1941) Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer (1956) The Desert Trail (1935) Fighting Caravans (1931) The Great Train Robbery (silent-1903) Hell’s Hinges (silent-1916) One-Eyed Jacks (1961) The Outlaw (1943) The Painted Desert (1931) The Red Man’s View (1909) Santa Fe Trail (1940) Trouble in Texas (1937) The Vanishing American (silent-1925)  

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