The study of developmental history is an illuminating window on growth and development. Very simply put, development is a function of population, resources and economy.
Today development is closely linked to the patterns of investment and consumption that fuel the maintenance and proliferation of living standards. The demand for those goods and resources is propelled by consumer demand, capital investment and profit potential. Profit potential is related to the efficiency of delivering consumer goods. Infrastructure drives delivery efficiency. Things go faster with planes, ports, roads, trains, automobiles, broadband and the instantaneous-ness of the internet.
The development that I wish to deconstruct is that which eats resources and spreads the human footprint. The ethics of that development can be judged to determine whether development is good development or bad development. My views on development are expanded elsewhere but my purpose in raising the topic is to highlight how closely individual lives are coupled to development. The human stories emanating from the success and failure of families (and their communities) that inhabit, work, support, invest, win and lose from development is all pervading.
Cinema history provides easy-to-see examples of development driving and often dominating human endeavour and the inevitable and unfortunate conflicts of life that arise. Ask yourself would you or your family be where you are now if it was not because someone somewhere in your past followed the yellow-brick-road (the pathway to prosperity). Because the story of development is all pervading most films by their very topical nature include at least some development angle. On the other hand, films usually focus on “people issues” such as family, love, strength, tragedy, money, politics, gangsters, bitterness, revenge and the seven deadly sins etc. This list is built around the films that more obviously highlight development.
If you have any to add to the list please let me know. email@example.com
The Descendants (2011) – land use
Directed by Alexander Payne, starring George Clooney. Traces the journey of land baron Matt King (Clooney), a Honolulu-based attorney and the sole trustee of a family trust that controls 25,000 acres of pristine land on the island of Kauai—land that is not only of great monetary value but of distinct cultural value. Most of King’s cousins are broke from squandering their share of the inheritance and the because the trust is to expire in seven years the family decides to sell the land to Kaua’i native Don Holitzer for development, all against a backdrop of family tragedy.
Red Dog (2011) – mining development Australia’s north-west frontier
Directed by Kriv Stenders and produced by Nelson Woss and Julie Ryan. The film is based on the novel by Louis de Bernieres. Against the back drop of rapid industrialisation of the Pilbara region of Western Australia by mining and minerals, it tells the story of a Red Cloud Kelpie. As the mining town grows more people come and befriend Red Dog and he becomes a community character. In the last instalment, Red Dog is poisoned by strychnine and has to be put down, unable to shoot him, the vet who treated Red Dog in the past injects him with a painkiller and he dies. The locals hold a funeral for Red Dog and build him a monument.
Avatar (2009) – Mining and indigenous rights
Directed by James Cameron, starring Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver. The film is set in the mid-22nd century, when humans are mining a precious mineral called un-obtanium on Pandora, a lush habitable moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system. The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na’vi – a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora.
There Will Be Blood (2007) – Energy production and developmental capitalism
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano. The film is loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil! It tells the story of a silver miner-turned-oilman on a ruthless quest for wealth during Southern California’s oil boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Castle (1997) – Urban development, compulsory acquisition, town planning
Directed by Rob Sitch and starring Eric Bana in his first movies. The film tells the story of the Kerrigans a working class suburban Melbourne family. Their home is filled with love as well as pride in their modest lifestyle, but their happiness is threatened when developers attempt the compulsory acquisition of their house to expand the neighbouring airport. The house is built in a largely undeveloped area next to the airport on a former industrial site beneath high voltage power lines. Despite all this, Daryl the sweet-natured father believes he lives in the lap of luxury. Blissfully unaware of his family’s lack of style or sophistication, he lives by driving a tow truck, racing greyhounds, and constantly adding DIY home improvements. The rest of the Kerrigan clan shares and supports his enthusiasm in every way. One day, a property valuer arrives to inspect the house. Though he has no wish to sell, Darryl points out all the faults of the house, believing they’ll add value to the appraisal. He then receives a letter informing him of the compulsory acquisition of his house for the sum of A$70,000. His neighbours all receive similar notices. Believing on common principle that the government cannot evict him unwillingly from his treasured home, Darryl attempts to fight the eviction. Agents from the airport try to bribe and bully the family into giving up, but their actions only stiffen the Kerrigans’ resolve. Darryl hires the local suburban lawyer, Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora), but Dennis’ is way out of his depth and his main argument becomes that the eviction goes against “the vibe” of the Constitution. While awaiting the court’s final decision, Darryl makes pleasant small talk with a man outside the courthouse, Lawrence Hammill (Bud Tingwell), who has come to watch his son (a barrister) become admitted to the court. The court rejects the family’s appeal and gives them two weeks to vacate. The purchase price for the home is scarcely enough to cover a small apartment. Dejected in defeat, the family begins to pack. A new breath of hope comes with the surprise arrival of Lawrence, who reveals himself as a retired Queen’s Counsel. Lawrence has taken an interest in the Kerrigans’ case and offers to argue pro bono before the High Court of Australia on their behalf. Lawrence wins the case on the grounds that the Kerrigans have the right to just terms of compensation for acquisition of property under Section 51(xxxi) of the Australian Constitution. He closes by paraphrasing Darryl’s own comments that his house is more than just a structure of bricks and mortar, but a home built with love and shared memories that is priceless and cannot be merely compensated for. The court rules in favour of the Kerrigans, and their case becomes a landmark precedent on the subject. An epilogue shows that the Kerrigans continue to prosper happily, and Lawrence becomes a lasting friend of the family.
The Field (1990) – conflict in development, land, property, foreign investment, differing development ideas
The film is an adaptation of John B. Keane’s 1965 play of the same name. It was directed by Jim Sheridan and starred Richard Harris and John Hurt. Bull McCabe, an Irish farmer, dumps a dead donkey in a lake. It transpires that McCabe’s son, Tadhg, killed the donkey after discovering it had broken into their field. Paddy the donkey’s owner blames Bull McCabe for the death and demands “blood money”. McCabe has a deep attachment to a rented field his family have cultivated from barren, to a very productive piece of land over a number of generations. The fields owner is a widow who, around the time of the 10th anniversary of the death of her husband, decides to sell the field. McCabe has been trying to buy the field from her for some time. She decides to sell the field by public auction rather than to McCabe directly. Unknown to McCabe his son, Tadhg, has been harassing the widow nightly for years. The widow believes McCabe is behind the harassment in order to force her into a sale. On hearing there will be an auction McCabe goes to the village pub and announces that nobody would dare bid against him for “my field”. Cabe has constant doubts about Tadhg’s ability to safeguard the field. His older son, Seamie, committed suicide when he was 13. McCabe blames himself for the death, as he told Seamie the field could only support one family, and that Tadhg would have to emigrate when he grew up. McCabe and his wife have not spoken in the 18 years since the death. An American, Peter, whose ancestors are from the area, arrives in the village. He has plans to build a hydro-electric plant in the area and quarry stone for new “highways”. Central to his plans is McCabe’s field. At the auction Peter repeatedly out-bids McCabe, forcing the price up to 80 pounds, 30 pounds more than what McCabe can afford. Seeing the bidding war the widow stops the auction and insists there would be a new auction, with a reserve price of 100 pounds. Knowing he cannot out bid Peter and seeing his cattle thrown off the field, McCabe goes to the rectory to confront Peter, and the parish priest who has been supporting him. McCabe now discovers Tadhg’s actions, expelling him from the meeting, and goes on to explain his deep attachment to the field. This includes the death of his mother while making hay. Despite McCabe, Peter refuses to back down. In a desperate last attempt McCabe and Tadhg confront Peter the night before the second auction. When Tadgh fails to defeat Peter in a fight, McCabe himself intervenes and beats both men in a rage. Peter is killed. Tadhg flees and plans to run off with his girlfriend while McCabe secures the field for 101 pounds at the second auction, via an agent, unopposed. Peter’s corpse is discovered in the lake and at the same time Tadhg comes home to tell his father he never wanted the field. The Parish priest arrives to confront McCabe about the discovery of Peter’s body. Having lost his son and with the corpse discovered, McCabe insanely herds his cattle to the cliffs. Tadhg rushes to stop his father but gets driven over the cliff by the herd of cattle and is killed. Maddened with grief, McCabe attempts to drive the waves back from his dead son, while Tadhg’s mother and his girlfriend sob on the cliff-top.
Babakiueria 1986 – Land rights
Imagine what it would be like if black settlers arrived to settle a continent inhabited by white natives? In 1788, the first white settlers arrived in Botany Bay to begin the process of white colonisation of Australia. But in Babakiueria (BBQ Area!), the roles are reversed in a delightful and light-hearted look at colonisation of a different kind. This satirical examination of black-white relations in Australia first screened on ABC TV in 1986 to widespread acclaim with both critics and audiences alike. This is the story of the fictitious land of Babakiueria, where white people are the minority and must obey black laws. This ‘reverse angle’ probe into racial inequality in Australia has developed a considerable cult following. It approaches its subject with humour but is no less effective for that, perhaps more so. Many valid points are posed for the viewer concerning racial/ethnic assumptions and relations as well as the incongruities of contemporary Australian society. The white Australia lifestyle is seen through (patronizing) Aboriginal eyes within a pseudo-documentary format. Babakiueria was awarded the United Nations Media Peace Prize in 1987.
Blott on the Landscape (1985) – urban development
The story revolves community outrage around the proposed construction of a motorway (M101 in the book and the M399 in the film) through Cleene Gorge in rural South Worfordshire (a fictional gorge in a fictional English county). At one end of the gorge is Handyman Hall, home to politician Sir Giles Lynchwood and his wife Lady Maud Lynchwood.
Chinatown (1974) – land use and water rights
Directed by Roman Polanski, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film was inspired by the California Water Wars, a series of disputes over the exploitation rights to southern California water at the beginning of the 20th century.
McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971) growth of towns and cities and mining and competition for land
Directed by Robert Altman, starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. McCabe invests in a gold rush town in northern North America hand quickly establishes many profitable enterprises including a brothel run by Mrs Miller. Later McCabe runs into competition from a bigger more corporate more ruthless miner from the east and a battle for supremacy results. Sound track includes a number of Leonard Cohen songs that were used during the editing process but considered “right” for inclusion in the final cut as soundtrack. An all time great and filed at a time during the Vietnam conscription period that led to their being many volunteers for the set work as it was done in Canada.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – Land settlement, railroad building, water rights, opportunity, personal animosity, desperation, revenge, town planning, coercion, developmental ethics.
Epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale with music by Ennio Morricone. The film was made following the success of the Dollars Trilogy and is regarded as one of the best ever of its genre. The film portrays conflicts. A land battle related to construction of a railroad, and a mission of vengeance against a cold-blooded killer. A struggle exists for Sweetwater, a piece of land containing the region’s only water source. The land was bought by McBain who foresaw the railroad would have to pass through that area to provide water for the steam locomotives. When railroad tycoon Morton learns of this he sends his hired gun Frank (Henry Fonda) to intimidate McBain but Frank kills McBain and his three children, planting evidence to frame the bandit Cheyenne (Jason Robards). A former prostitute (Claudia Cardinale) arrives from New Orleans revealing that she is Mrs McBain and now the lawful owner of the land.
Meanwhile, a mysterious harmonica-playing gunman (Charles Bronson), whom Cheyenne later dubs “Harmonica Man”, pursues Frank. In the film’s opening scene, Harmonica kills three men sent by Frank to kill him. In a roadhouse on the way to Sweetwater, he informs Cheyenne that the three gunfighters appeared to be posing as Cheyenne’s men. Back at Sweetwater, construction materials are delivered to build a railroad station and a small town around that. Harmonica explains to Mrs McBain that she will lose Sweetwater unless the station is built by the time the track’s construction crews reach that point, so Cheyenne puts his men to work. Frank turns against tycoon Morton who wanted to make a deal with Jill. Morton is crippled and unable to fight back. After coercing her into sex, Frank forces Mrs McBain to sell the property at auction. Frank tries to buy the farm cheaply by intimidating all other bidders, but Harmonica arrives. Holding Cheyenne at gunpoint, he makes a much higher bid based on the reward money that he would collect for delivering Cheyenne to the authorities. Harmonica rebuffs an offer by Frank to sell the land to him for one dollar more than he paid at auction.
Frank’s men betray and ambush him, having been paid by tycoon Morton to turn against him, but — much to Mrs McBain’s outrage — Harmonica helps Frank kill them, simply in order to save that privilege for himself. Tycoon Morton and the rest of Frank’s men are killed in a battle with Cheyenne’s gang. Frank then goes to Sweetwater to confront Harmonica. On two occasions, Frank has asked Harmonica who he is, but both times Harmonica refused to answer him. Instead, he mysteriously quoted names of men Frank has murdered. This time, Harmonica says he will reveal who he is “but only at the point of dying.” The two men position themselves for a duel, at which point Harmonica’s motive for revenge is revealed in a flashback. When Harmonica was a boy, Frank, already a cruel bandit, forced him to balance his older brother on his own shoulders while the brother had a noose around his neck. As Harmonica struggled to support his brother’s weight, Frank stuffed a harmonica in his mouth and told him to play. The boy’s laboured breathing in and out of a harmonica would become the character’s theme throughout the film. Eventually the older brother is hanged. Harmonica draws first and shoots Frank. As he lie dying, Frank asks who he is, whereupon the harmonica is placed in Frank’s mouth. Frank nods weakly in recognition and dies. Harmonica and Cheyenne say goodbye to Mrs McBain, who is supervising construction of the train station as the track-laying crews reach Sweetwater. Cheyenne collapses, revealing that he had been fatally shot during the fight with Frank’s gang (by tycoon Morton). The work train arrives, Mrs McBain carries water to the rail workers while Harmonica rides away with the body of Cheyenne.
The Trap (1966) – frontier settlers hunting beaver furs
Directed by Sidney Hayers, starring Oliver Reed and Rita Tushingham. Shot in the pristine wilderness of the Canadian province of British Columbia, a very touching love story about a rough trapper and a mute orphan girl. The fur trapper Jean La Bête (Oliver Reed) paddles his canoe through wild water towards the isolated regional settlement to sell a load of furs. At the settlement, a steamboat is landing and a trader and his foster-child Eve (Rita Tushingham) arrive to fetch mail and consumer goods. The trader explains to Eve that the ship brings “Jailbirds … from the east” and that “their husbands-to-be had bailed them out and paid their fines and their passages with a guarantee of marriage”. Later, the captain is auctioning off one of those women because her husband-to-be has died along the way. Jean La Bête decides to take his chance and to buy the wife, but he makes his bid too late. Next day, the trader’s wife, in the need to compensate for the loss of her savings, seizes the opportunity to offer her foster-child for thousand dollars to the simple-minded, rough-cut trapper. She praises the qualities of the shy girl and explains, that her inability to speak is caused from the shock of seeing the barbarous murder of her parents by Indians several years ago. La Bête finally agrees to buy the mute girl and takes her against her will into the wilderness of British Columbia. Here the strange couple starts a difficult relationship characterized by mistrust and Eve’s dislike of him the alpha male. Eve vehemently rejects the advances of the gruff trapper. La Bête takes her for hunting and acquaints her with the beauty and the dangers of the wilderness and gradually, through time and circumstances form some bonds but will he ever win her trust?
Around the World in 80 Days (1956) – Infrastructure.
Based on the novel by Jules Verne, directed by Michael Anderson and starring David Niven. In Victorian England (1872), an English gentleman Phileas Fogg (David Niven) claims he can circumnavigate the world in eighty days. He makes a £20,000 wager (equal to £2 million today) with four sceptical fellow members of the Reform Club (each contributing £5,000 to the bet), that he can arrive back within 80 days before exactly 8:45 pm. The film deploys travel by a hot air balloon but in the original novel travel was by regular land and sea transport. Together with his resourceful valet Passepartout, Fogg sets out on his journey from Paris. The story’s drama is linked to a suspicion that Fogg has stolen £55,000 (equal to £5,000,000 today) from the Bank of England so Police Inspector Fix (Robert Newton) is sent out by Scotland Yard to trail and arrest Fogg. Hopscotching around the globe, Fogg pauses in Spain, where Passepartout engages in a comic bullfight. In India, Fogg and Passepartout rescue young widow Princess Aouda (Shirley MacLaine) from being forced into a funeral pyre with her late husband. The threesome visit Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco, and the Wild West. Only hours short of winning his wager, Fogg is arrested upon arrival at Liverpool, by the diligent yet misguided Inspector Fix. The technological innovations of the 19th century had opened the possibility of rapid circum-navigation and the prospect fascinated Verne and his readership. In particular three technological breakthroughs occurred in 1869-70 that made a tourist-like around-the-world journey possible for the first time: the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in America (1869), the linking of the Indian railways across the sub-continent (1870), and the opening of the Suez Canal (1869). It was another notable mark in the end of an age of exploration and the start of an age of fully global tourism that could be enjoyed in relative comfort and safety. It sparked the imagination that anyone could sit down, draw up a schedule, buy tickets and travel around the world, a feat previously reserved for only the most heroic and hardy of adventurers. The closing date of the novel, 21 December 1872, was the same date as the serial publication. As it was being published serially for the first time, some readers believed that the journey was actually taking place — bets were placed, and some railway companies and ship liner companies lobbied Verne to appear in the book. It is unknown if Verne submitted to their requests, but the descriptions of some rail and shipping lines leave some suspicion he was influenced. Following Towle and d’Anver’s 1873 English translation, many people have tried to follow in the footsteps of Fogg’s fictional circumnavigation including James Willis Sayre in 1903, a Seattle theatre critic and arts promoter who set the world record for circling the earth using public transport in 54 days, 9 hours, and 42 minutes AND Monty Python alumnus Michael Palin who took a similar challenge without using aircraft as a part of a television travelogue, called Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days. He completed the journey in 79 days and 7 hours.
Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) Land selection and land use conflicts
Directed by Allan Dwan, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Ronald Reagan. A western, about the time of the Homestead Act, when the Jones family is just about to prove claim to prime Montana land they are raided by renegade Indians who have been put up to it by their villainous neighbour McCord, who receives the stolen cattle. The two survivors are helped by Colorado, the college-educated son of the Indian chief. One of the survivors is Sierra Nevada Jones (Stanwyck) and she then takes up the fight for the land against legal technicalities and assorted villains. Can she gain the help of McCord’s hired gun, Farrell (Reagan)? A bit different because this time the main hero is the ballsy chick. Shows land settlement conflicts, removal of land from indigenous groups and environmental degradations of plains and water courses.
Shane (1953) land release and land use conflicts.
Directed by George Stevens, starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance and Van Heflin. A stranger, wearing buckskin and a six shooter, calling himself Shane, rides into an isolated valley in the newly but sparsely settled state of Wyoming soon after the Homestead Act 1862 was put into place by Abraham Lincoln as means to grant land and populate the west with patriots and pilgrims. Shane soon finds himself drawn into a conflict between a homesteader and a ruthless cattle baron who wants to force the homesteaders off the land to get the best for himself and his cattle (water and feed). Shane befriends the homesteader’s wife Marian (Jean Arthur) and starts working as a farmhand. The homesteaders are being bullied by the cattle baron who threatens and terrorizes them, calling them “pig farmers,” “sod busters,” “squatters” and other taunts. When the rancher gets violent, the homesteaders are divided over whether to leave or to hold onto their claims. Shane stands up.
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) – Industrialisation
Directed by Orson Wells based on a 1918 novel by Booth Tarkington (which won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize (the second novel in his “Growth” trilogy). The novel and the trilogy trace the growth of the USA through the declining fortunes of three generations of the aristocratic Amberson family in an upperscale Indianapolis neighbourhood, between the end of the Civil War and the early part of the 20th century, a period of rapid industrialization and socio-economic change in America. The titular family is the most prosperous and powerful in town at the turn of the century. Young George Amberson Minafer, the patriarch’s grandson, is spoiled terribly by his mother Isabel. Growing up arrogant, sure of his own worth and position, and totally oblivious to the lives of others, George falls in love with Lucy Morgan, a young though sensible debutante. But there is a long history between George’s mother and Lucy’s father, of which George is unaware. As the town grows into a city, industry thrives, the Ambersons’ prestige and wealth wanes, and the Morgans, thanks to Lucy’s prescient father, grow prosperous. When George sabotages his widowed mother’s growing affections for Lucy’s father, life as he knows it comes to an end. The Ambersons are the wealthiest family in the small mid-western city of Indianapolis. At the turn of the 20th century life is peaceful. Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotten) as a young man courts Isabel Amberson (Dolores Costello), but she rejects him even though she loves him. Isabel marries Wilbur Minafer instead, a passionless man she does not love, and as a result they have a child, George, whom she spoils and who becomes a terror of the town. George, on break from college, returns to his home. His mother Isabel and Major Amberson (Richard Bennett), his grandfather, hold a reception in his honour. Among the guests are the widowed Eugene Morgan, now a prosperous automobile manufacturer who has just returned to town after a 20-year absence, and his daughter Lucy (Anne Baxter). George instantly takes to the beautiful and charming Lucy, but takes as quick a dislike to Eugene. George’s father Wilbur dies, Eugene’s automobile plant prospers, and the industrialist builds a mansion to rival the magnificence of that of Major Amberson (where his daughter and grandson George also live). During a dinner party, George tells Eugene that he thinks “automobiles are a useless nuisance, which had no business being invented.” The other family members are taken aback by his rudeness, but Eugene says that George may turn out to be right, since he knows that automobiles are going to drastically alter human civilization, for better or worse. During the evening George learns from his uncle Jack (Ray Collins) and his aunt Fanny (Agnes Moorehead) that Isabel and Eugene were an item and is enraged when Fanny implies that Isabel loved Eugene, not George’s father. Eugene courts Isabel again and decides to ask her to marry him. Sensing the developing intensity of their relationship, George takes control and rebuffs a planned visit from Eugene at the door of the Amberson mansion. Isabel’s love for her son overrides her love for Eugene, so she complies with George’s demands, although she knows that he is trying to separate her from Eugene. George takes Isabel on a world tour, ostensibly to get away from the “scandalous” talk in the town, but also to remove her from the possibility of a relationship with him. Before leaving for Europe, George tries to learn what Lucy is feeling, but she feigns cheerful insouciance, concealing her pain. George and Isabel travel and live in Europe for a while. After she becomes ill, they return home, where George acts as gatekeeper for the dying Isabel. Eugene comes to the house to visit, but George refuses to let him see Isabel, who is on her deathbed. Shortly after Isabel’s death, her grief-stricken father Major Amberson dies, leaving nothing of his estate to his descendants. George and the other family members must fend for themselves financially. Lucy does not reconcile with George. She tells her father a story about a North American chieftain who was “pushed out on a canoe into the sea” when he became too obnoxious and overbearing, which Eugene understands to be an analogy for George. With the entire Amberson fortune depleted, George gives up his job at a law firm for higher-paying work in dangerous trades that will enable him to care for his Aunt Fanny, who has descended into psychosis. The film ends with George wandering around a polluted city, confused and disoriented by the industrial society that has developed around him. The additional scenes (deleted from the studio cut of the film and never released) show George getting injured in an automobile accident, and Eugene and Lucy reconciling with him at the hospital.
How Green Was My Valley (1941) – mining and industrialisation
Based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn, directed by John Ford, starring Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara and a young Roddy McDowall. The film tells of the Morgans, a close, hard-working Welsh mining family living in the heart of the South Wales Valleys in the 19th century. The story chronicles the destruction of the environment in South Wales coalfields, and the loss of a way of life and its effects on the family.
Union Pacific (1939) – the classic frontier film, railroad building (linear infrastructure), economic opportunity driving unethical development, land rights and environmental debauchery – all nation building stuff. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea (hero) and Robert Preston (anti-hero). A dramatic western based on Ernest Haycox’s novel Trouble Shooter. The film tells the story of the building of the Union Pacific Railway across the western frontier. An act to unifying the nation, enabled by one of President Lincoln’s last bill to be signed into law the Pacific Railroad Act. While one man does everything he can to push the railroad through the wilderness to California, another man looks to profit from obstructing the project. The heroine a guiding light made all the more real by her Irish accent. See this great film clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rT-TuJn3aq0