As useful for high-speed chases as they are for romantic encounters and clandestine plotting, trains are usually really boring if you're commuting but brilliant if you're making a film.
Here, we've gathered together some of the most memorable locomotive scenes in cinema history, from the heart-warming to the heart-racing.
N.B. Obviously the scene from the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade should be here but the internet is just not playing ball.
(Images: All Star, Rex Features)
From Russia With Love
They are many arguments to be made about which is the best fight in the Bond series and several of the contenders are in From Russia With Love - hi Rosa Klebb - but perhaps the finest punch-up of all twenty films is 007's battle with SPECTRE agent Grant on a train. It's a demonstration of how, when necessary, Bond can be a brutal thug rather than the suave, well-tailored ladykiller.
Another Bond. There were a lot of nods to 007's past in the 20th film, and this train chase and fight might be seen as a wink to From Russia With Love, and perhaps Octopussy. Obviously, being a modern Bond it made everything way, way bigger. Who brings a digger to a train chase? And there has never been a Bond moment cooler than that cuff adjustment.
The grandaddy of all train sequences and still never bettered. Buster Keaton performed all of the stunts himself, many of them absurdly dangerous and with a high chance of killing him. The man would do anything for a good visual gag. And thank the cinema gods that he did. You can watch the whole film online as it's now out of copyright. It's highly recommended that you do so.
Back To The Future Part III
Director Robert Zemeckis spoke of how much he looked at The General for the final sequence in the final part of his time-hopping series. You can see it in the combination of comedy and danger. Part III might have been the patchiest of the Back To The Future movies but this entire runaway train segment was pure joy.
Strangers On A Train
The pivotal moment in Hitchcock's thriller takes place on rails, when two men meet and discuss how much easier their lives would be if each was rid of the one person holding them back. They decide to each murder the other's respective millstone, but making the promise to murder is not the same as actually following through with it...
There's a surreal, vaguely sinister quality to much of Dumbo -the Pink Elephants on Parade sequence, Dumbo depressed and dressed as a clown - and that's also true of the early scene when the train carries the circus cross-country. It's a sentient train. That sings to itself. This is not normal. WE ARE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS HERE, PEOPLE, AND IT IS DARK.
It's that moment of Before Sunrise when you decide whether or not this entire series is going to be for you. Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) meet on a train and do a little bit of flirting about books and traveling. When Jesse asks Celine to get off the train with him, you'll either think 'this is wildly romantic' or 'these are the people I move away from on trains and that woman is going to wind up murdered by this stranger'. It's one of the interesting things about the movie, you either love it or despise it.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Another meeting on a train. Perhaps there's something about train journeys being transient, in neither one place nor another, that makes them so cinematically useful for first encounters. In Michel Gondry's beautiful romance, Joel and Clementine (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) meet on a humdrum journey on the Long Island Rail Road. In one short conversation they discover they're extreme, complimentary opposites. And then there follows much sadness as Joel tries to forget the greatest thing that ever happened to him.
Nobody does 'peril face' like Tom Cruise, who scowls his way through the gloriously bonkers finale of Brian De Palma's film, in which Ethan Hunt (Cruise) pursues a mole in the Impossible Missions Force. There are a lot of things in this sequence that make very little sense, but that is true of the entire film, which has a plot so convoluted that it's still a bit fuzzy after several watches, but in both cases it doesn't matter. The experience is glamorous, slick and enormously fun.
If not the equal of Moon, Duncan Jones' follow-up is an interesting sci-fi ride. Jake Gyllenhaal is Colter Stevens, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who keeps waking up in the body of someone else on a train that keeps blowing up. The train scenes become more and more tense as Stevens tries to work out who's blowing up the train as he falls for Christina (Michelle Monaghan), a friend of the man he's somehow inhabited. And the explosion is terrifying and beautiful.
Angelina Jolie is a renowned bad-ass. James McAvoy is more often known as a terribly nice chap. But the two work perfectly together in this bonkers action movie in which an office drone (McAvoy) is told he's the son of a famed assassin and invited to join a secret order. There are curved bullets and car-train interfaces and the whole thing is absurd and great.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows
Who can even remember the plot of the second Sherlock Holmes movie? But, that doesn't alter the fact that the train shoot-out/blow-up/punch-up is tremendously done.
So silly. So brilliantly silly.
Well, it's the best scene from Sam Raimi's entire trilogy, isn't it. Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) get into a punch up that takes them up and down a skyscraper and then inside and outside a high-speed train. It's absolutely masterful action direction.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
One of the great buddy comedies ends with businessman Neal (Steve Martin) finally parting with traveling salesman Del (John Candy) after a nightmare journey home to his family for Thanksgiving. As he sits on that final train for the short ride back to Chicago, Neal realises that the man he's been trying to get away from for several nightmare days might not have an end to his journey. Please only watch this if you've already seen the movie. If you haven't seen the movie go and watch it immediately.