WILD WILD WEST
The story of "Wild Wild West" unfolds
in several of the newly formed United States, including West Virginia,
Virginia, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and a host of Western
points of interest. In order for Jim West and Artemus Gordon to
traverse this vast expanse of America, they rely on a specially
designed, lavishly appointed personal train known as The Wanderer.
"West and Gordon really have no home in the movie, so The
Wanderer becomes their home and headquarters for this mission,"
says Welch. "It's also a wonderful common thread that weaves
throughout the movie. It's like you're travelling with them on
Welch and his design team, including art director TOM DUFFIELD
and set decorator Cheryl Carasik, exhaustively researched private
railroad cars of the era. "I wanted The Wanderer to feel
like an exclusive men's club," says Welch, "with a sort
of very opulent, luxurious, rich quality." An elegant green
is the predominant color used in the train and throughout the
film because it happens to be a favorite of both Sonnenfeld's
"We used all materials of the day -- real marble, beveled
glass, real brass and solid Honduran mahogany," adds Tom
Duffield. Set decorator Cheryl Carasik contributed such details
as English hand-woven rugs, custom-dyed and upholstered furnishings
and custom draperies bordered with hundreds of hand-tied fringes.
"Our heroes spend a lot of time on The Wanderer," says
Sonnenfeld. "If 'Wild Wild West' were taking place today,
they'd be in their Gulfstream V. But since it's 1869, they're
on a train -- yet this train is the most high-tech train ever.
It's kind of like a stunt train."
Indeed, The Wanderer functions as a state-of-the-art secret weapon
for West and Gordon. Equipped with such trick options as a flipping
pool table, trap doors, lamps that camouflage Gatling guns, sliding
mirrors that house a secret arsenal and a swinging mallet for
unwelcome guests, the train does its job in protecting the intrepid
The Wanderer set took approximately 2 months to construct on Stage
30, an exceptionally long soundstage at the Warner Bros. Burbank
Ranch facility. When completed, the train consisted of three cars
pulled by an actual Civil War steam locomotive, the Baltimore
& Ohio 4-4-0 William Mason American.
The locomotive, which had been dormant for more than 30 years,
had been on display at the B&O Museum in Baltimore and required
a major overhaul to make it serviceable. The American was moved
from its home in Baltimore to Pennsylvania's Strasburg Railroad
Shop, where it went through a complex and detailed overhaul.
"It's a very elegant and graceful locomotive and a real example
of the American West," Jon Peters notes. "It helped
build the Trans-Continental Railway, which opened the West. That's
why it came to be called the American."
Filming of the interior scenes in The Wanderer took place over
a period of four weeks. Once filming was completed, the sets were
stripped to a shell and placed on oversized flatbed trucks to
be shipped to various locations, including Santa Fe, NM, to shoot
with the first unit. Then they went on to Idaho for filming with
the second unit. The Wanderer cars were placed on specially prepared
flatbed rail cars to function as real trains while on location.
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