Danger Lights
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1512) 19 years ago
I'd never heard of this movie until I started collecting Milwaukee Road memorabilia on eBay.

I checked into it and found that it was filmed mostly in Miles City and shows a great deal of the roundhouse and shops along with much of the rolling stock in 1930.

The movie itself is *terrible*! It's so bad that it was tempting to turn the volume off if it weren't the first time I'd ever heard Milwaukee steam engines under power or blowing the whistle, and there's *lots* of both. They have their directions completely backwards (you don't go through 16 Mile Canyon to get from Miles City to Chicago, but I guess they needed a mountain scene..kinda like Lonesome Dove eh?).

The version that I bought is 55 minutes but I understand that it was originally 73 minutes. I don't know what has been cut.

It's black & white, *very* grainy, and very dark in places, but it's really cool to see the Miles City railyard in action.

It's also in the public domain. You can check that here, just type "Danger Lights" in the search box:

http://www.retrofilm.com/index2.html


[This message has been edited by Dave Roberts (edited 3/15/2003).]
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Posted by Bart Freese (+933) 19 years ago
Bad???

Dave, you're talking about one of my favorites, why I'm nearly brought to tears each time during the scene where the rough old rail boss is on his death bed and then rises up to yell and at the other workers. Beautiful. Plus, my Uncle Bill Bartley was one of the many locals caught forever on film -- a depot scene I recall. We have a copy of that somewhere that I taped off cable -- it couldn't have been AMC could it? Anyway, I have no idea where it is, but if I ever come across it I'll make you a copy to compare. I probably taped it off KYUS now that I think about it, and Dave R. might still have the 16mm copy.
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1512) 19 years ago
It would be great if he does have the tape and would be willing to lend it out for a short time because my copy is from a poor source.

It would even be great if one of the stations that has a tape would air it sometime! AMC has shown it before, and I'm pretty sure that Salt Lake PBS showed it at least once. I've been checking regularly for a year and haven't seen it listed on any schedule yet (probably because it really is *that* bad?)

My wife got upset with me when I played it for her because my hand was always blocking her view of the screen pointing out structures and engines.

I capped a few .wav files of running steamers and blowing whistles. I'll play around today and see if I can host them for download on my ISP account.
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1512) 19 years ago
Say, I wonder if this isn't something that the Preservation Comittee could sell to boost their bankroll for picking up more historic items for their archive.
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Posted by Ted Schmidt (+68) 19 years ago
That is a great idea. As I have webtv I can't view movies or anythng on the discs, but would be happy to buy a VHS cassette to view on my OLD VCR. I'm not going to upgrade my stuff as I'm getting too old to learn the new stuff. Ted
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1512) 19 years ago
I found some WMV clips of it online here:

http://www.trains.com/Content/Dynamic/Articles/000/000/001/202camwl.asp

(May have to cut and paste it in sections)

WMV files are usually no match for SVCD or AVI files, but these look better than anything I can get out of the copy that I have, so I'm gonna hold off on my offer of copies until I can find a good source to start with.

I found that persons selling the movie online in various forms are editing it in order to claim a hybrid copyright. The guy that sold me this tape cut 18 minutes and re-dubbed one small part in an effort to show "substantial revision or editing" as required to file a new copyright on public domain works (kinda like whoever colorized "It's a Wonderful Life", the black and white original is free, the color one is owned).

I could fix the re-dub easily, the sountrack is avilable. And "cutting" does not equal "editing" as far as copyright law goes, but the tape itself is so poor compared to what is available that it's not worth messing with my copy.

So, I'll keep looking for it to be listed for broadcast on AMC or PBS (neither plays the "edit so I own it" game) and keep digging for an affordable public domain tape and someone that can play 16mm tapes when I find one.
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Posted by Jack McRae (+355) 19 years ago
If you search amazon.com you will find the movie available from their zShops (scroll to the bottom of the search results).

The version is 73 minutes long and it appears there are a number of copies available from the two merchants. There is one less than there was several minutes ago as I ordered one. If you want to wait until I get my copy I will do a "movie review" for milescity.com and let you know the quality of the copy.
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Posted by JEANNE M BOLE (+39) 19 years ago
HI JACK,
I REALLY WOULD BE INTERESTED IN THE MOVIE SO LET US KNOW.
I GOT MY COPY OF TARTAN TALES YOU AND TOOTIE DID A WONDERFUL
JOB ON IT. I LOVE IT. IN THE BOOK YOU MENTIONED A BOOK
CALLED WHEELS ALONGTHE PRARIE FROM TERRY MT DO YOU KNOW
WHERE I COULD GET A COPY OF IT. ALSO THE HISTORY OF CUSTER
COUNTY.
THANK YOU
JEANNE BOLE
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Posted by Jack McRae (+355) 19 years ago
I heard from the place where I ordered Danger Lights and the distributor they order from no longer has it on video--they are switching everything to DVD. When I asked about getting it on DVD they didn't know if it is available yet. Drat.
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1512) 19 years ago
I got a complete, royalty-free version last week. I just didn't say anything yet because my timeline to get the Miles City info put together for an intro to the movie just isn't working out right now.

If Amorette's willing to accept them, I'll make as many copies (VHS) as I can between now and the weekend of the 19th (Easter weekend, I think anyhow) and bring them over to her then. I'll include fliers with the tapes with what little info I have about it, I'm pretty sure that the Preservation Comittee can come up with more.

If the year stays as busy as it is right now, I might even make enough to use the write-off for the donation..
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11978) 19 years ago
Ooo, I have a few stills from the film I can copy. Heheheh. Yeah, I can give you the receipt for a donation.

--Amorette
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11978) 19 years ago
So far, I have sold two copies of "Danger Lights" and have two more probablys plus I sat and watched it myself again. (LOVE the HUGE house a couple of railroad guys live in. Yeah, there were lots of those in the Milwaukee part of Miles City.)

And I found the files I couldn't find on Sunday! I knew I had more stuff. I have photocopies of all the newspaper articles about the filming of "Record Run," which was the earlier title, even a big story on the baseball game between the film crew and the townies.

Remind me to make copies for you, Mr. Roberts, next time you pass through Miles City.

--Amorette
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1512) 19 years ago
I'll bring a few "Limited Edition" tapes next time I'm there. I finally sat through the whole thing and noticed the "please wait while we change reels.." for the first time while watching it with Dwight in Miles. I's edited out in the "new" edition.

More "who's in this movie" info: As the engine backs out of the roundhouse after the hero fixes it up, D.W. Roberts is in the cab (unseen) ringing the bell..on overtime even.

He's also in the washout scene. Second guy carrying a lantern.

He's the one that told me about the fire department supplying the rain and he never said a word about being in it himself until we watched the movie.

I'll jot down some of the tidbits he remembers about the movie one of these days. (The roundhouse interior is shiny because it had been freshly white-washed by Dwight and a few others. They were working one booth over when the filming started inside and overspray was disturbing the crews so they got paid to stop and watch the filming.)

The record run still cracks me up. It's got a great shot of the special passing a waiting Olympian in Lombard..the wrong way if you're going to Chicago.

I'm still looking for more Milwaukee jingles and will get more/better shots for the intro some day.
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Posted by JEANNE M BOLE (+39) 19 years ago
I would love to buy a copy. let me know how much and I
will get a check right out.
Jeanne Bole
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