The Railrodder

This short film from director Gerald Potterton (Heavy Metal) stars Buster Keaton in one of the last films of his long career. As "the railrodder", Keaton crosses Canada from east to west on a railway track speeder. True to Keaton's genre, the film is full of sight gags as our protagonist putt-putts his way to British Columbia. Not a word is spoken throughout, and Keaton is as spry and ingenious at fetching laughs as he was in the old days of the silent slapsticks.

For more background information about this film, visit the NFB.ca blog.

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Comments

  • MelBennett

    “This funny charming film serves as a love letter to Canada's past railroad industry and the lure of the Canadian landscape for visitors from abroad. The train was such an elegant, comfortable, and accessible method of transportation and a way to see the beauty of the country's landscape. It's unfortunate that this form of travel has become virtually non-existent in Canada, save for the Rocky Mountaineer that's exorbitant rates are beyond what most can afford! The ending of this film makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it.” — MelBennett, 21 Jul 2014

  • MovieVigilante

    “Great Canadian landscapes! Keaton is amusing also.” — MovieVigilante, 17 Apr 2013

  • edgy4sst

    “excellent film. we would be seriously hard pressed by CN or CP to even think about filming something similar 2day. i wonder if hunter harrison or claude mongeau have seen this? i often think about alternative uses of railways when i walk the tracks north of huntsville, ontario where the ontario northland used to operate until dalton mcguinty's termination on 28/09/2012. an interesting film could be made toronto to moosonee + this route requires a show case train from toronto to the ocean in ontario. where is the #vision #leadership? ” — edgy4sst, 16 Dec 2012

  • edgy4sst

    “excellent film. we would be seriously hard pressed by CN or CP to even think about filming something similar 2day. i wonder if hunter harrison or claude mongeau have seen this? i often think about alternative uses of railways when i walk the tracks north of huntsville, ontario where the ontario northland used to operate until dalton mcguinty's termination on 28/09/2012. an interesting film could be made toronto to moosonee + this route requires a show case train from toronto to the ocean in ontario. where is the #vision #leadership? ” — edgy4sst, 16 Dec 2012

  • pierrebonho

    “what a treat!!” — pierrebonho, 30 Nov 2011

  • north56sask

    “another great nfb memory film.....thks nfb for marking my childhood.....the making of the film was good also..i recommend it....” — north56sask, 18 Feb 2011

  • MGBguy

    “Pure genius! The great Buster Keaton and the outstanding cinematography makes this one of my all-time favorite films (short or long)! This is a rare find and somewhat pricey to own. What a wonderful gesture to offer it here! I could not be more appreciative! ” — MGBguy, 14 Oct 2010

  • paulkakazu

    “Really excellent. I recognized several places: the view from Levis across the Saint Lawrence to the Chateau Frontenac, the Montreal electrfication, but most thrilling was the approach to Ottawa Union Station. I believe it was in '65 when Union Station closed, the tracks torn up, and the service banished to Ottawa's outskirts, where today's VIA station stands. Who would've thought Buster Keaton was still active in the mid 1960s; and this work turned out to be just like a silent movie, with no dialogue and lots of sight gags. As I watched the film, I was constatntly reminded of a pre-talkie movie, Keaton's The General from 40 years earler. Equally wonderful was the obvious extensive cooperation of CN. Of course back then, CN was still a crown corporation so maybe it wasn't so hard for the National Film Board to pull some political strings and get this project done.” — paulkakazu, 9 Aug 2010

  • yuallthetime

    “If I knew Keaton was in a film on NFB I would have watched it a long time ago. Huge Keaton fan. Loved this! A friend on facebook gave me the link and I was surprised because I signed up along time ago. Long way around to see this but it's worth it. Thank you. PS. Did'nt know NFB was on facebook.” — yuallthetime, 18 Apr 2010

  • bush bunny

    “I always liked this film, I worked on the railroad in Northern Alberta for 10yrs on the section, then CN bought us out and about 95% of us lost our jobs, I have driven those speeders like the Mr. Keaton is on it was a "Roadmasters speeder", and they could cruise 30mph no problem, a nice cushon seat to sit on, on a beautiful day it was wonderful driving down the tracks, something you don't ever forget. I remember one of his earlier movies called " The General" where a train was used for some of the sequences, truly a masterful talent at work, doing his own stunts, I also have seen a film on the making of this movie, listening to Mr. Keaton set up shots and directing it was worth the view.” — bush bunny, 20 Mar 2010

  • CoryTheRaven

    “It's awesome to see Buster Keaton in such good form after all those years. And living it up with one his great loves: trains. Wow, I totally want to cross Canada by railway speeder!” — CoryTheRaven, 10 Feb 2010

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Film Credits

director
Gerald Potterton
script
Gerald Potterton
producer
Julian Biggs
photography
Robert Humble
sound
George Croll
Ted Haley
Karl Duplessis
editing
Jo Kirkpatrick
Gerald Potterton
music
Eldon Rathburn
cast
Buster Keaton
Kats R. Nasu

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