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A Ticket to Tomahawk

A Ticket to Tomahawk(1950)

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According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the studio bought Mary Loos and Richard Sale's original screenplay for $30,000 in February 1949. A studio press release in the AMPAS Library reveals that the husband and wife team were "rabid model railroaders" and had spent two years researching narrow-gauge railroads before writing the script. According to the files, the studio made a deal with the Rio Grande and Western Railroad to film on their track, which ran from Durango to Silverton in Colorado. In the film, Silverton doubled as both of the fictional towns of Epitaph and Tomahawk. The Durango to Silverton line, a civil engineering feat, was built to haul silver and gold ore from the San Juan Mountains.
       The railroad made its inaugural run in early July 1882 and operated for many years. Another film, Paramount's The Denver & Rio Grande, shot a spectacular head-on collision of two engines on the line in July 1951. In June 1967 the National Park Service officially designated the railroad a Registered National Historical Landmark, and the following year the American Society of Civil Engineers designated it as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. In the early 1980s, after four years of negotiations, Charles E. Bradshaw, Jr., a Florida citrus grower, bought the Silverton Line for $2.2 million in cash. The railroad, restored with total authenticity, reopened on May 23, 1981 as a tourist attraction. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the A Ticket to Tomahawk company was scheduled to return to the studio on September 23, 1949 after six weeks of location filming in Colorado. Shooting of interiors at the studio ran into mid-October 1949.
       Several reviews of the film incorrectly spell the names of the characters played by Walter Brennan, Lee MacGregor, Charlie Stevens and Edward Clark. Shortly after the film opened, Motion Picture Herald reported that some exhibitors were dissatisfied with its title. Executives of the Orpheum Theatre in Tulsa advertised the film as The Sheriff's Daughter (albeit the principal female character is a marshal's granddaughter). Variety reported that Fox would test the new title in Memphis, but by that time, the film had already played in most key cities. A radio version of the film, featuring Dan Dailey and Anne Baxter, was broadcast on the Lux Radio Theatre on June 4, 1951.