- Danger Lights
Directed by George B. Seitz Written by James Ashmore Creelman Starring Louis Wolheim
Distributed by RKO Pictures Release date(s) August 31, 1930 (USA) Running time 71 min. (original)
55 min. (television)
Country United States Language English
The plot concerns railroading on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, and the movie was largely filmed along that railroad's lines in Montana. The railway yard in Miles City, Montana was a primary setting, while rural scenes were shot along the railway line through Sixteen Mile Canyon, Montana. Additional footage was shot in Chicago, Illinois.
Louis Wolheim plays the boss of the railroad yard in Miles City, Montana. The film opens with a landslide across the tracks in Montana, and a repair crew is dispatched to clear the tracks. Several hobos are lounging nearby and are put to work helping the repair crew. One of the hobos, played by Robert Armstrong, is discovered to have been a former railroad engineer who lost his job due to insubordination. He is given a new job for the railroad by the yard boss, but quickly falls in love with the boss's fiancée, played by Jean Arthur.
Jealousy grows between the two over the affections of Arthur with both of them attempting to win her in marriage. Things come to a head during a fight in the railroad yard between the two, during which Wolheim is hit by a train and injured. To save his life, Armstrong must transport him in record time to Chicago for surgery.
- Louis Wolheim as Dan Thorn
- Robert Armstrong as Larry Doyle
- Jean Arthur as Mary Ryan
- Hugh Herbert as Professor
- Frank Sheridan as Ed Ryan
- Robert Edeson as Tom Johnson
- Alan Roscoe as Jim
- William P. Burt as Chief Dispatcher
- Jim Farley as Joe Geraghty
Danger Lights was filmed during a period when some movie studios were experimenting with various widescreen film formats. As part of this trend, two versions of the film were created. One used standard 35mm film and Academy ratio, the other used an experimental 65mm widescreen format at a 2:1 aspect ratio. This latter process was called "Natural Vision" and was invented by film pioneers George Kirke Spoor and P. John Berggren. The Natural Vision print of the film was reportedly screened at only two theaters, and no copies of it are known to exist today.
The film's original release on 21 August 1930 by RKO Radio Pictures ran 74 minutes in length. A shortened release for television runs 55 minutes.
Historically significant footage
Danger Lights features rare footage of a tug of war between two steam locomotives, actual documentary footage of the activities in the Miles City yard, and what is believed to be the only motion picture footage of a dynamometer car from the steam railroad era. Similar footage 'may' have existed in MGM's Thunder(1929), with Lon Chaney but that film is now lost.
The portion of the film that was filmed in Montana was part of the electrified Rocky Mountain Division of the railroad, with the 3000 volt direct current trolley and the 100,000 volt alternating current "highline" plainly visible in several shots. Despite the fact that the railroad often touted the power and reliability of its straight electric locomotives, none are seen in the film.
- Danger Lights at the Internet Movie Database
- Danger Lights is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- Magnified Grandeur - The Big Screen, 1926-31, David Coles, 2001
- Danger Lights at AllRovi
Films directed by George B. Seitz 1910s 1920sPirate Gold • Velvet Fingers • Rogues and Romance • The Sky Ranger • Hurricane Hutch • Go Get 'Em Hutch • Speed • Plunder • The Way of a Man • Leatherstocking • The Fortieth Door • Into the Net • Galloping Hoofs • Sunken Silver • Wild Horse Mesa • The Vanishing American • Desert Gold • The Last Frontier • The Ice Flood • Pals in Paradise • Jim, the Conqueror • The Blood Ship • Great Mail Robbery • The Isle of Forgotten Women • The Tigress • The Warning • After the Storm • Ransom • Beware of Blondes • Court-Martial • The Circus Kid • Blockade • Hey Rube! • Black Magic 1930sMurder on the Roof • Guilty? • Midnight Mystery • Danger Lights • The Lion and the Lamb • The Drums of Jeopardy • Arizona • Shanghaied Love • Night Beat • Sally of the Subway • Temptation's Workshop • Docks of San Francisco • Sin's Pay Day • Passport to Paradise • The Widow in Scarlet • Treason • The Thrill Hunter • The Women in His Life • Lazy River • The Fighting Ranger • Buried Loot • Society Doctor • Shadow of Doubt • Times Square Lady • Calm Yourself • Woman Wanted • Alibi Racket • Desert Death • Kind Lady • Exclusive Story • Absolute Quiet • The Three Wise Guys • The Last of the Mohicans • Tarzan Escapes • Mad Holiday • Under Cover of Night • Mama Steps Out • A Family Affair • The Thirteenth Chair • Between Two Women • My Dear Miss Aldrich • You're Only Young Once • Andy Hardy's Dilemma: A Lesson in Mathematics... and Other Things • Judge Hardy's Children • Yellow Jack • Love Finds Andy Hardy • Out West with the Hardys • The Hardys Ride Again • The Hardys Ride High • 6,000 Enemies • Thunder Afloat • Judge Hardy and Son 1940s
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