The Iron Horse

The Iron Horse (1924) Director: John Ford

An early western epic, Ford’s The Iron Horse was a massive production. At two and a half hours of running time, it is an extended silent film, even though much of the film was unplanned and shot off the cuff. It was filmed during cold winter in the Nevada desert. Ford later said it was the favorite of his films.

The film tells a glamorized version of the building of the transcontinental railroad, through the confrontation of cultures: the Italians, the Irish, the Chinese laborers, American Indians. The star, George O’Brien, is best known for his lead role in F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Like a D.W. Griffith epic, the film romanticizes seedier elements of the American past, and it portrays President Lincoln as a god among men.



The Iron Horse is an entertaining picture with amazing shots. It captures many of the themes of classic western films and it is a good film worth seeing once for lovers of great works cinema.


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