Suicide from a train

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  • Suicide from a train

    Any train buffs out there?

    I have a scene in mind where a woman takes her life by jumping from a train (ca. early 1900's) as it passes over a tressel bridge. My question is, do you think it's conceivalble and/or feasible for her to get access to the outside of the passenger car without too much trouble? Anyone know how the doors were secured back then?

    I suppose she could steal the key from the conductor, but I don't want this to be too premeditated, but rather an act of desperation instigated by something that happnes on the train. I want there to be passengers who try to stop her, but fail.

  • #2
    Re: Suicide from a train

    i would guess safety features were not a big part of transportation back then.
    the idea that hobo's jumped on and off freight trains on a regular supports that logic as well.
    don't waste so much time on these tiny details. if it fits the story and makes sense then write it that way.
    and something like this is an easy fix later if it comes to that.

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    • #3
      Re: Suicide from a train

      Originally posted by NikeeGoddess View Post
      i would guess safety features were not a big part of transportation back then.
      the idea that hobo's jumped on and off freight trains on a regular supports that logic as well.
      don't waste so much time on these tiny details. if it fits the story and makes sense then write it that way.
      and something like this is an easy fix later if it comes to that.
      Yeah, I tend to get too logic/detail oriented at times when writing and watching movies, go figure.

      I think hobos were mostly using freight trains where safety of their contents wasn't paramount. But then again, locks would be needed to prevent theft. Oh well, like you said, fix it later. Maybe she discovered earlier that the lock was jammed open????

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      • #4
        Re: Suicide from a train

        I think it partly depends on what type of train. What you write about in the script may not be what the production team can acquire or build for the film if it gets made. I would agree that there weren't many safety precautions back then. I rode an antique train last summer and they were quite rickety with not a lot of doors or locks. I think a passenger could easily find a way off between the cars. I think it's feasible for you just to write it the easy way and let the director and set designer make it work on film. Besides I don't think you are allowed to "lock" passengers into one area on a train...back then or even today.

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        • #5
          Re: Suicide from a train

          Originally posted by RGF View Post
          I think it partly depends on what type of train. What you write about in the script may not be what the production team can acquire or build for the film if it gets made. I would agree that there weren't many safety precautions back then. I rode an antique train last summer and they were quite rickety with not a lot of doors or locks. I think a passenger could easily find a way off between the cars. I think it's feasible for you just to write it the easy way and let the director and set designer make it work on film. Besides I don't think you are allowed to "lock" passengers into one area on a train...back then or even today.
          Thanks RGF. That's good info.

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          • #6
            Re: Suicide from a train

            Don't know if it helps at all, but I instantly thought of this scene in DOUBLE INDEMNITY...

            [Norton, Keyes's boss, has just tried, unsuccessfully, to convince a client that her husband's death was a suicide]

            Barton Keyes: You know, you, uh, oughta take a look at the statistics on suicide some time. You might learn a little something about the insurance business.

            Edward S. Norton: Mister Keyes, I was RAISED in the insurance business.

            Barton Keyes: Yeah, in the front office. Come now, you've never read an actuarial table in your life, have you? Why they've got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poison, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by *types* of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth; suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places, under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks, under the feet of horses, from *steamboats*. But, Mr. Norton, of all the cases on record, there's not one single case of suicide by leap from the rear end of a moving train. And you know how fast that train was going at the point where the body was found? Fifteen miles an hour. Now how can anybody jump off a slow-moving train like that with any kind of expectation that he would kill himself? No. No soap, Mr. Norton. We're sunk, and we'll have to pay through the nose, and you know it.

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            • #7
              Re: Suicide from a train

              Originally posted by TheKeenGuy View Post
              Don't know if it helps at all, but I instantly thought of this scene in DOUBLE INDEMNITY...
              Great stuff KeenGuy.

              And you know how fast that train was going at the point where the body was found? Fifteen miles an hour. Now how can anybody jump off a slow-moving train like that with any kind of expectation that he would kill himself?
              Exactly. That's why my character waits until the train is crossng a tressel bridge over a river canyon.

              It's so funny that you mentioned DI. I was searching YouTube for notable movie train scenes, when I came across Fred MacMurray and Olivia De Havilland in the train crash scene in "The Swarm." Definitely memorable, but not in a good way.

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              • #8
                Re: Suicide from a train

                Wasn't it generally possible to go between cars (as it still is)? If so, you could easily jump off from the area between one car and the next. I think you could write that into the script and expect it to be feasible.
                "Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.-
                ― Ray Bradbury

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                • #9
                  Re: Suicide from a train

                  I was going to post the same exchange from DOUBLE... but also mention that passengers used that observation section of the caboose for smoking in that film - and it's "outside" the train like a balcony or patio section.

                  Plus, train doors aren't exactly plane doors - you can easily open them while the train is moving (look at the train killing scene in AMERICAN FRIEND).

                  - Bill
                  Free Script Tips:
                  http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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                  • #10
                    Re: Suicide from a train

                    Originally posted by wcmartell View Post
                    I was going to post the same exchange from DOUBLE... but also mention that passengers used that observation section of the caboose for smoking in that film - and it's "outside" the train like a balcony or patio section.

                    Plus, train doors aren't exactly plane doors - you can easily open them while the train is moving (look at the train killing scene in AMERICAN FRIEND).

                    - Bill
                    Thanks Bill. We must be channeling or something, because as a precursor to the suicide, I have a scene where my protag's sidekick tries to light up (something few woman did back then) on the train, but is told she can't, even though in plain view, a group of men are drinking/smoking/playing poker in a private room next to her.

                    I'll check out American Friend. Thanks!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Suicide from a train

                      Originally posted by Ravenlocks View Post
                      Wasn't it generally possible to go between cars (as it still is)? If so, you could easily jump off from the area between one car and the next. I think you could write that into the script and expect it to be feasible.
                      Thanks Raven. I just remembered that we have a 1930's era passenger train parked on the tracks in front of a fading train station in our small town. Up until last year, they used it as a "dinner train." I'll have to ask the caretakers if I can take a peak.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Suicide from a train

                        Originally posted by bioprofessor View Post
                        Thanks Raven. I just remembered that we have a 1930's era passenger train parked on the tracks in front of a fading train station in our small town. Up until last year, they used it as a "dinner train." I'll have to ask the caretakers if I can take a peak.
                        Sounds good. Probably was fun for dinner, too.
                        "Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.-
                        ― Ray Bradbury

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                        • #13
                          Re: Suicide from a train

                          I used AMERICAN FRIEND as an example because it is a modern train... older trains, like in DOUBLE INDEMNITY, were probably easier to leap off. Check out that local train - and I encourage everyone to find things like that they can explore for research - it's fun, and you get all kinds of ideas you may not have had.

                          If you are in Los Angeles and want to look at old trains - there is a train museum in Griffith Park near Burbank that has all kinds of old train cars of various kinds.

                          - Bill
                          Free Script Tips:
                          http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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                          • #14
                            Re: Suicide from a train

                            I rode this rebuilt steam train a few years ago

                            As you can see very open between carriages

                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omZSt...eature=related
                            ________
                            Easy vape hose
                            Last edited by Southern_land; 05-13-2011, 07:12 AM.
                            I heard the starting gun


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                            • #15
                              Re: Suicide from a train

                              Originally posted by Southern_land View Post
                              I rode this rebuilt steam train a few years ago

                              As you can see very open between carriages

                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omZSt...eature=related
                              Southernland,

                              I can't tell you how helpful that was. Thanks, big time! Notwithstanding Telly's "minutia" comments (which I mostly agree with), seeing, hearing and (in your case) feeling the place or thing you're writing about can only elevate you're writing.

                              It may be most economical/efficient to simply write, "The distraught woman popped open the latch and jumped from the train." But if we're told, "The distraught woman's dress catches on the carriage door's curved iron handle, causing her to hang momentarily before falling to her death...", well, I know which one would have me gripping the seat more.

                              A superbly creative writer may have come up with that extra bit of suspense on his own, without any reference or research. But for the rest of us, a little bit of research into the minutia just may yield big results.

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