Railroad Bill by Alan Lomax
Billy Miner … still popular
Billy Miner – Sang by Garry Fjellgaard
Notice anything funny about the posters above?
The image on the right is reversed.
Why? I have no idea.
I saw the Grey Fox when it came out in 1982. At the time I recall being underwhelmed. I was hoping for a Western action film, but the Grey Fox didn’t answer my bloodlust. It was more a docu-drama – a Bio Pic on the famous “Gentleman Bandit”, outlaw Billy Miner.
But upon watching it again, my initial feelings were dismissed. It’s a good movie. Probably a movie that should be more appreciated.
Farnsworth has more than enough Star Power to get away with the loot and he seems to have been born for the role of Billy Miner. That’s great casting.
The movie pulls us in quickly and though we know Miner is a crook, Farnsworth’s charm wins us over easily and we’re along for the ride – whatever our fates may be.
When the action picks up, Farnsworth’s soft spoken like-ability is played ‘against type’ where the violent contrast against his usually quiet nature provides dramatic punch.
Francis Ford Coppola protégé Phillip Borsos directs this elegiac, low-key tale about real-life bandit Bill Miner that has become a classic of Canadian cinema. Having been released from jail in 1901 following a 33-year prison sentence for robbing stagecoaches, Bill Miner (Richard Farnsworth) finds himself living in a society that has completely changed from the one of his youth. He tries to put his life of crime behind him and settle down in Washington state with his sister, but the quiet life does not suit him. He feels restless but uncertain as to how to proceed next. The answer comes to him when he sees Edward S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery. Soon, Miner has slipped over the border into Canada and, along with his new partner, Shorty (Wayne Robson), robs the Canadian Pacific Railway Transcontinental Express. Later, while laying low after the crime in a remote corner of British Columbia, he meets the beautiful, strong-willed photographer Kate Flynn (Jackie Burroughs). In writing this script, Borsos reportedly made heavy use of contemporary court documents and testimonies. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival in honor of its 20th anniversary. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi
PG, 1 hr. 30 min. / Directed By: Phillip Borsos / United Artists
Old West highwayman Bill Miner, known to Pinkertons as “The Gentleman Bandit,” is released in 1901 after 33 years in prison, a genial and charming old man. He goes to Washington to live and work with his sister’s family. But the world has changed much while he has been away, and he just can’t adjust. So he goes to Canada and returns to the only thing familiar to him — robbery (with stagecoaches changed to trains). – Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The End of the line
The Grey Fox exits with a bit of a fairy tale ending with Bill riding (or rowing) off into the sunset, but sadly (historically) Miner died in in a Georgia, US prison in 1912.