The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Great Train Robbery is a 1903 American Western film by Edwin
S. Porter. Twelve minutes long, it is considered a milestone in film
making, expanding on Porter's previous work Life of an American
The film used a number of innovative techniques including cross
cutting, double exposure composite editing, camera movement and on
location shooting. Cross-cuts were a new, sophisticated editing
technique. Some prints were also hand colored in certain scenes.
None of the techniques were original to The Great Train Robbery, and
it is now considered that it was heavily influenced by Frank
Mottershaw's earlier British film A Daring Daylight Burglary.
The movie was directed and photographed by Edwin S. Porter, a former
Edison Studios cameraman.
Actors in the movie included Alfred C. Abadie,
Broncho Billy Anderson and Justus D. Barnes, although
there were no credits.
Though a Western, it was filmed in
Milltown, New Jersey. The film has been selected for preservation
in the United States National Film Registry.
The clerk at the train station is
assaulted and left tied by four men, then they rob the train
threatening the operator. They take all the money and shoot a
passenger when trying to run away. A little girl discovers the
clerk tied and gives notice to the sheriff, who at once goes along
with his men hunting the bandits.
The film’s budget was an estimated
$150 ($3,300 in today's dollars).
The film was originally distributed with a note saying the famous
shot of the bandit firing his gun at the camera could be placed
either at the beginning or at the end of the film, or both. Most
modern prints put it at the end.
Justus D. Barnes is the Bandit Who Fires at Camera (unaccredited)