The Silk Express


1h 1m 1933
The Silk Express

Brief Synopsis

A young silk importer fights off threats to his cargo during a perilous train ride.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Release Date
Jun 10, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
The Vitaphone Corp.; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

The raw silk market is rising, and Donald Kilgore, head of the manufacturers' association, finds that gangster Wallace Myton has cornered the market and is holding out for top prices. Determined to break the combine, Kilgore bands together with several friends to import a silk cargo from Japan. A special train leaves Seattle to rush the silk to New York. On board are Craft and Burns, train guards who are Myton's henchmen; Rusty, a tramp; Calhoun, a transportation lawyer; Nyberg, a victim of a tropical disease; his daughter Paula; and Dr. Ralph. Craft and Burns are determined to stop the train before it reaches New York. One of the train cars catches fire, and a man is found dead, but Kilgore insists on continuing. After he finds a note tossed from the train, which reveals the murder, however, Detective McDuff stops the train. Worried that McDuff's meddling will prevent the silk from reaching New York in time, Kilgore kidnaps him, and the train starts again. As it approaches New York, Clark, the conductor, is found dead. Rusty, the tramp, is revealed to be special insurance investigator Raymond Griffith, who explains that Clark was one of Myton's men and was killed by Craft by driving a sharp icicle through his eye and into his brain. The train arrives in time to save Nyberg from death, and the silk shipment puts an end to Myton's monopoly.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Release Date
Jun 10, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
The Vitaphone Corp.; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

The Silk Express -


Audiences have always favored crime thrillers set aboard speeding railroad trains. The tight confines encourage dramatic confrontations and if the pace slackens, one can always cut to a frantic close-up of spinning wheels. 1933's The Silk Express is so intent on its deadly intrigues that it barely has room for a love story. The swift, amusing tale by writers Houston Branch (Safe in Hell, 1931) and Ben Markson (The Half Naked Truth, 1932) involves a Wall Street wolf's scheme to corner the silk market and send prices skyward. The dashing silk importer Kilgore (Neil Hamilton) determines to quash the crooked monopoly by rushing $3 million dollars' worth of the Far-Eastern fabric to New York in less than three days. Kilgore's special highball express carries no regular passengers, just some aides and two special guards. But space is made for a professor (Dudley Digges) suffering from a tropical disease, who must get to the Rockefeller Institute before an upward-creeping paralysis reaches his heart. Sheila Terry is the sick man's worried daughter. When a corpse turns up, railroad detective McDuff (Guy Kibbee) threatens to stop the train. A snowstorm, a kidnapping and more mayhem follow before we know which among the passengers and railroad employees is a killer working to stifle the free market. The suspects include a mysterious stowaway hobo (Allen Jenkins) and even the train's conductor (Arthur Byron). Reviewers praised Ray Enright's light, snappy direction even if they felt that the handsome Neil Hamilton was miscast. His busy pre-Code era career did a slow fade, only to re-ignite three decades later when he won the role of Commissioner Gordon on TV's Batman.

By Glenn Erickson
The Silk Express -

The Silk Express -

Audiences have always favored crime thrillers set aboard speeding railroad trains. The tight confines encourage dramatic confrontations and if the pace slackens, one can always cut to a frantic close-up of spinning wheels. 1933's The Silk Express is so intent on its deadly intrigues that it barely has room for a love story. The swift, amusing tale by writers Houston Branch (Safe in Hell, 1931) and Ben Markson (The Half Naked Truth, 1932) involves a Wall Street wolf's scheme to corner the silk market and send prices skyward. The dashing silk importer Kilgore (Neil Hamilton) determines to quash the crooked monopoly by rushing $3 million dollars' worth of the Far-Eastern fabric to New York in less than three days. Kilgore's special highball express carries no regular passengers, just some aides and two special guards. But space is made for a professor (Dudley Digges) suffering from a tropical disease, who must get to the Rockefeller Institute before an upward-creeping paralysis reaches his heart. Sheila Terry is the sick man's worried daughter. When a corpse turns up, railroad detective McDuff (Guy Kibbee) threatens to stop the train. A snowstorm, a kidnapping and more mayhem follow before we know which among the passengers and railroad employees is a killer working to stifle the free market. The suspects include a mysterious stowaway hobo (Allen Jenkins) and even the train's conductor (Arthur Byron). Reviewers praised Ray Enright's light, snappy direction even if they felt that the handsome Neil Hamilton was miscast. His busy pre-Code era career did a slow fade, only to re-ignite three decades later when he won the role of Commissioner Gordon on TV's Batman. By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to Hollywood Reporter, Douglass Dumbrille played a character named Johnson. New York Times, however, lists Ivan Simpson in that role.