As a young boy I vividly remember watching David Janssen furtively running from the law back in the mid 1960's. The idea was fascinating . . . an innocent man convicted of crime escapes when the train carrying him to prison wrecks and he escapes. He was on the run from the law, trying to prove his innocence for the entire tv series. What a great plot for a spellbinding story. But wait . . . that idea was the basis of a motion picture some thirty years earlier . . . this motion picture! And guess what . . . in my humble opinion, this adventure is much more complex, much more fun, and with a much more complicated plot . . . including a young girl as the fugitive. Our fugitive is a young girl . . . handcuffed to the Sheriff and on the train heading for prison, played by silent screen star Marceline Day. Also aboard the train is the manipulative blackmailer, Mrs. Marian Radcliffe, played by film star Hedda Hopper. Just as in the later fugitive stories, the train wrecks and the young girl unlocks her handcuffs while the Sheriff is unconscious. And here is where the plot gets really interesting. Hedda Hopper is a wealthy lady on the train with her lawyer, played by Bryant Washburn. This is 1931, at the height of the Great Depression, and she has lost all of her wealth in the stock market crash of 1929, and is virtually penniless. Her lawyer tells her that it is a shame that she doesn't have a young daughter, because he is probating a will that gives millions to a young man, and a valuable necklace goes to the young man's wife. After the train crashes Hedda Hopper watches the young girl get out of her handcuffs and thinking quickly takes the young girl with her as her 'niece' - protecting her from the law. Her motive is to blackmail the young girl. Hedda Hopper will protect the young girl from going to prison, but the young girl must marry the wealthy young man and funnel his wealth to her. Later the Sheriff is hot on her trail, and the young girl is in fear for her future as she falls in love with the young wealthy boy that she can never marry because of her criminal conviction. And then, just when we have the story line all figured out . . . another surprise . . . and I will not tell you what it is . . . it is totally unexpected and puts a whole new twist on the story that later versions of the fugitive never imagined. What a delightfully twisted tale of love, crime, jewel robbery and trains out of control . . . . yes, plural trains . . . Our adventure both begins and ends with train wrecks that will change the lives of all involved forever, and there are more twists and turns in this amazing plot than on the road from Shanksville to Somerset. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter and enjoy the show.
Director: Phil Whitman
Stars: Hedda Hopper, Marceline Day, Nick Stuart