Buses on Screen > Films > Films W > Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd)
(for the record the title is correct - there is no question mark)
Among the amazing special effects can be seen the streetcars of 'Pacific Electric', otherwise the 'Red Car'. Three cars are seen, 652, 721 and 731. 652 and 731 never leave the depot, although 731 is seen to move a couple of feet forward, and the trouble was taken to change their destinations between scenes:
Only 721 is seen out on the street.
The car used in the movie was a replica. The Orange Empire Railway Museum has four of the Pacific Electric 'Hollywood' cars in its collection, but none were in good enough condition to be used in the film.
The replica was not quite historically correct. In 1947, when the movie is set, these cars had sliding centre doors. Outward folding centre doors were fitted in 1949-50 for conversion to one-man operation, and all the OERM cars are of this type. The replica was (wrongly) built to the same type:
Part of the plot of the movie - a sinister plot to take over the two streetcar lines in Los Angeles in order to dismantle them - has its roots in a story that alleges a conspiracy by General Motors to replace streetcars with its own motorbuses across the USA through National City Lines. This began in 1974 with the accusation by Bradford Snell, an antitrust attorney for the US Senate, that the government had criminally charged "...General Motors and allied highway interests for their involvement in the destruction of 100 electric rail...systems... throughout the country." In 1955 GM had actually been convicted of conspiring with others in the automotive industry "to monopolize the sale of supplies used by the local transportation companies controlled by the City Lines defendants." and a small fine was imposed.
An article by Cliff Slater for 'Transportation Quarterly': General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars traces the decline of the streetcar, and shows motorbuses replacing streetcars in the same way and for largely the same reasons as trams and trolleybuses were replaced in the UK - economics. However the story has passed into folklore, and was given fresh impetus by PBS television documentaries in 1993 ('Heartland of America') and 1996 ('Taken for a Ride').
Created with Boltwire.
All the movies, TV programmes and clips referred to remain the copyright of their respective owners, and no infringement is intended by reproducing screen captures on this website.
Click here for information about how Buses on Screen uses cookies.