The Great K & A Train Robbery, and movies like it, are why God invented popcorn.  Tom Mix is detective Tom.  Tom has been hired by Cullen (Will Walling), the President of K & A Railroad, to put a stop to a series of robberies that has a put a hurt good to his business.  Unknown to Tom and Cullen, it is the president’s secretary, the dastardly mustachioed Holt (Carl Miller) that has been tipping off the robbers and is in cahoots with them.

Tom must disguise himself as a masked bandit.  Even Cullen does not know Tom’s secret identity!  This is a mile-a-second silent oater that’s certain to burn some brain cells, but it’s a helluva lot safer than illegal substances, and a lot more fun too.

The opening shot of Tom as he descends upside down a rope over a raging river in Royal George of Colorado is a thrill a second as he finally lands right onto the back of Tony the horse.  The scene sets the tone for the whole movie, which director Lewis Seiler keeps moving at a break-neck pace.

The corny dialogue is priceless too.  Tom tells his comedy relief assistant Deluxe Harry (played by Harry Grip), ” I’m trailin’ train robbers for Cullen, president of the K & A–but he doesn’t know it! I just learned his secretary is one of the crooks and that’s why I am keeping a secret identity!”

Still from The Great K&A Train Robbery (1926)

Of course, there is a beautiful girl, Madge (Dorothy Dwan) who is the daughter of Mr. Cullen.  She is resisting Daddy’s efforts to get her engaged to his man, Holt.  Never fear, Tom is going to save the day and get the girl.  Mr. Mix bounces off the walls.  Remarkably, he was 46 years old in this film.  Tom, doing all of his own stunts, prevents desperadoes from kidnapping the heroine by pulling her off a runaway carriage and on to his horse Tony, runs atop a locomotive, then hides from the bad guys underneath the speeding train, and all that within the first fifteen minutes.  Later,  Tom and Tony jump from a two story window into a pool below, Tom engages in fisticuffs aplenty atop the railroad cars in a dark tunnel,  and defeats the entire gang barehanded when he discovers the gang’s underground cavern (which looks like something out of the Phantom of the Opera’s lair).  Indiana Jones has nothing on this guy.

There is embarrassing stereotyped comedy relief with an African American K & A employee, named Snowball, but it’s mercifully brief.  Harry provides the bulk of the comedy relief, which is slightly less painful.

Still, it is a crammed 60 minutes. I resisted temptation and went with the buttered light popcorn. I probably should have indulged.

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