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'railfilm' thundering at you Monday at 14KT cabaret

The magic carpet and the spaceship aside, has any vehicle served movies better than the railroad? It's been a mainstay of epic Westerns from John Ford's "The Iron Horse" to Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West," and a favorite camera subject for directors as different as Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean.

Just gaze at that picture above -- doesn't it evoke a sort of brute machine-age romance? It's an image from a 1958 documentary about steam-powered trains, called "Thunder of Steam in the Blue Ridge." It's part of a slate called "railfilm" playing at the 14KT Cabaret of Maryland Art Place (218 W. Saratoga St.) at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.

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"railfim" includes another documentary, "Metroliner," about the fastest American passenger trains before Acela; "Fast Freight," a promotional film for the Baltimore and Ohio's Fast Freight train; and avant-garde sculptor and video artist Richard Serra's "Railroad Turnbridge," a series of shots of the Burlington and Northern bridge near Portland opening over the Willamette River so a ship can pass. (Pop movie note: Richard Serra is the brother of attorney Tony Serra, the real-life inspiration for Joseph Ruben's terrific 1989 legal thriller "True Believer," starring James Woods and Robert Downey, Jr.)

"railfilm" is the latest program from Martin Johnson's Nineteen23 series, which showcases non-theatrical films of all types made since 1923, when the 16mm gauge was born. Johnson is hoping you can spend part of your Memorial Day celebrating both a vanishing movie format and a dynamic and endangered form of transportation.

What are your most memorable images of trains in movies?

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