Here’s yet another then and now from the 1976 movie Silver Streak, a fun little tale of mystery and intrigue on board a transcontinental passenger train. In this scene two of the main characters leap from the moving train, landing in the waters below. This view (hard to believe) is on the eastern edge of downtown Calgary.
This track is part of CPR’s east/west mainline which spans the Elbow River seen here very near where it enters into the much larger Bow River. Typically the water here isn’t very deep and it may come up to your knees at best, so how they did the stunt is a bit of mystery. I can only assume they dug a deep pool where the jumpers could land. Otherwise OUCH! You can see these stunt people at the bottom of the first image and they represent the characters played by Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. In the movie they are being chased by evil henchmen and make the leap to freedom after being cornered in the baggage car.
While a lot of details have changed between the two images there is enough that has remained static to assure us we are at the right spot. The bridge while similar looking has had the decks replaced and now have walkways, the pier has been enlarged with a concrete angled ice breaker added, there is now a road (with very low clearances) under the opposite side of the bridge which was not there before. In addition the trees don’t seem to match well, but it has been almost forty years after all, so we’ll ignore that. There is also a new signal light just beyond the far bridge deck. In the railway vernacular these are often referred to as Christmas Trees.
Even in spite of these changes there are a lot of clues that help us confirm we are right. The location of the pier in relation to the far bank is about the same and form marks in the main body of the pier match in each picture (under close examination). Then there is a second road bridge seen to the far right of the first picture, which is still there, and the one signal light, seen above the far passenger cars, seems to match the location of the one in our image. Also, the far retaining wall, while somewhat obscured in our picture, matches almost perfectly with the one seen in the movie.
From this angle trains coming towards us are headed east and will shortly enter the CPR’s huge Alyth yards. Behind us is the now trendy neighbourhood of Inglewood but at the time of filming, it was a bit run down. The riverbank here has a public pathway on either side of it (but not when they filmed) and it is part of Calgary’s very extensive network of walking and biking paths.
The movie Silver Streak was filmed in many places around Calgary and even though this is our third report like this, I believe we have a few more yet to do. Then, we’ll start going further afield taking in the many small towns and rural areas in the province they filmed the movie in. While shot mostly in Canada, the places are supposed to represent the US. Most locations and equipment are thinly disguised including the train itself and it’s clear to see these are CPR passenger cars, marked for the fictional carrier “AmRoad” (a play on the real carrier Amtrak).
Most of the train scenes in the movie Silver Streak were filmed on various secondary lines around the province, but a few scenes, like this one, were taken along the busier main line. This must have been a nightmare for the dispatchers as countless freights travel this line. And nothing much has changed today and if you sat where our picture was taken you could see many dozens trains pass each day. In fact one made an appearance when we were shooting.
Some of the passenger cars seen in the first image, while not identifiable by name or number, could possibly exists to this day. Not long after this movie was made VIA Rail took over the national passenger train network and in the process inherited most of CPR’s passenger cars, likely including the ones we see here.
Images from the movie are copyright 20th Century Fox.
To see other Silver Streak then and now shots taken in Calgary, follow these links…
Silver Streak movie then and now – boarded up train station.
Silver Streak movie then and now – cop chase
Silver Streak movie then and now – small town station.
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Date: February, 2013.
Location: Calgary, AB.