David Keith (Harold Goodwin) works at his uncle Henry McFarlane’s (William Humphrey) bank. His sister Katherine Keith (Pauline Starke) is leaving the next day to do some missionary work. After their final dinner David has to go to the bank to finish some work. Madeline Morgan (Evelyn Brent) works at a local dancehall. She calls David and asks if she can go with him to the bank. David is smitten with Madeline so he says yes. Uncle Henry sees David with Madeline. He later asks him not to see her and tells him his sister wouldn’t approve. David is still smitten.
The next day Katherine is due to take the Arizona Express. As the train pulls out David and Katherine run for it. John Ralston (David Butler) works in the mail car. He helps Katherine board the train as she and David run alongside it. David thanks John for his help and they shake hands. John is smitten by Katherine. He helps her with her luggage and then goes back to work.
Madeline is a member of a gang run by Victor Johnson (Francis McDonald). Madeline writes down a diagram of the bank and where the vault is. Henry goes to Madeline’s room to talk to her about David. David sees Henry go into Madeline’s hotel. He hangs out in the lobby to find out what Uncle Henry is up to. In Madeline’s room Henry sees the drawing of the bank layout and realizes that Madeline was getting information so that the gang could rob the bank. When he tries to flee he is killed by Victor. David comes upstairs to find out what’s going on. Victor knocks him out and escapes out the window. David ends up framed for murder. He is tried and sentenced to death.
During a prison riot David escapes from jail but is wounded. He finds out that Madeline was in on the frame. Seeing a train going by David jumps on it. The Train is the Arizona Express. Holding on he knocks on the car door. John opens it and David falls into the train car. John realizes that the exhausted and hurt man is Katherine’s brother. He helps him.
Katherine vows to help her brother prove his innocence. To do that she must join Victor’s gang and find evidence of David’s innocence. Once she has it she needs John’s help to get the evidence to the Governor while trying to evade Victor and his gang.
“The Arizona Express” was released in 1924 and was directed by Tom Buckingham. It is a silent crime drama. Sometimes it’s been referred to as a silent western. Other than taking place in New Mexico there is nothing western about it. It is an obscure film. There isn’t much information available, that I could find, about the film. The movie was based on a story by Lincoln J. Carter. He wrote a lot of melodramas based on trains and ships.
The movie started out average. The prison riot was eventful and rather unique. Then the movie revved up and ended up being wild and a whole heck of a lot of fun. It had just about every cliffhanger you could have on a moving train, and then some, in one full length movie. For example: Jumping onto a train from the top of a tunnel, passing a hostage from a moving train to a moving car and jumping from a moving train to a moving car and having a fist fight. Then you have the usual walking on the top of the train, throwing people from the train, a runaway train and several other hair-raising feats. The train was like a jungle gym. I know some of the stunts had to be fake, but not all of them. Whoever they had as stunt people were sorely underpaid. The last twenty minutes or so of the film was awesome. If you’re into train movies or silent movies you’ll love it. It was an amazing film. Impossible, but incredibly enjoyable.