Electric Trolleybuses in the Movies



Photo by R. Hill, computer manipulation by Ken Josephson.

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This list includes known movies in which one or electric trolleybuses have appeared. You are welcome to send in movie titles that you know of or further information including corrections to the movies list below:

The following list includes contributions by Richard DeArmond, Ken Josephson, Charlie Brown, Ken Wuschke, John Day, Ba See Lo, Shari Saeger, Ronald Kiebler and many others. Thanks to all contributors.

Angel Who Pawned Her Harp, the. (1954). Christopher Matheson: starring Diane Cilento who was a Mrs Sean Connery at some time I think. I haven't seen this in years but she plays an angel who has to avoid the trolleybus wires as she descends earth. Earth in this case is the Angel area of Islington in north London. I cannot recall if any trolleybuses are shown.

Beautiful Joe. it is set in the Bronx, New York. In one scene there is a nice shot of a San Francisco trolleybus passing by! (Didn't know the Bronx had ex-San Francisco trolleys. :-) ) Submitted by Paul in Australia

Bicycle Thief, the. 1947. Lots of Roman 3-axle Fiats with centre drive and lots of overhead. The star of the film boards one of the Fiats. Also some bow cars for those who are inclined to like them. Why, oh why, did Rome get rid of its trolleys? (Rome actually started a second system, but not with Fiat trolleys but with Solaris trolleys.)

Blue Lamp, the. 1950s?. British. It contains quite a few exterior shots of London filled with trolleybuses. The movie opens and closes with a high shot of Paddington Green police station, with trolleybuses passing.

Blues Brothers 2000 . 1997. Shot of Toronto overhead just prior to removal; movie set in Chicago. Also shot of streetcars tracks, no vehicles.

Bullitt. 1968. (Steve McQueen). Lots of S. F. overhead. Submitted by LVK.

Clouded Yellow, the. 1950. (Trevor Howard). All kinds of public transport feature including a trolleybus which the stars ride in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The Conversation. (1974). "The Gene Hackman character takes ETBs everywhere he goes in SF -- lots of Twin Coaches and a few MHs: he rides a MH on what could be route 3. But the best scene has him riding inside when the lights go out as the bus passes a switch. He just sits in the dark -- it's a good metaphor for the feelings of alienation his character has. This scene is often cut from TV showings for time (there is no dialogue) but it is the best scene in the film in my opinion. The movies was made by Francis Ford Coppola between the first two Godfather pictures." M-H 763 and TC 614 (at east) are featured. Submitted by Louis Alvarez. Additional info by Ken Josephson.

The Day of the Jackal 1973. A quick but good shot of a Genoa Fiat 3-axle electric trolleybus.

Dead Alive. 1992. This amusing 1992 New Zealand horror flick features many shots of Wellington trams and some gratuitous views of trolley overhead.

D.O.A. 1949. There are some excellent shots of Muni's new etbs on Market St. and an Iron Monster, and PCCs on 7th Ave. in Los Angeles. First of two snapshots taken from movie. The second one.

Divorce Italian Style. 1962. Brief shot of a Catania trolleybus.

Doctor Dolittle. (the first one). Some Muni overhead.

Dragnet. 195-. LA Overhead and streetcar overhead in the downtown area.

The Fabulous Baker Boys. 1989. Seattle ETBs.

Field of Dreams. 1989. There is a Boston ETB throwing sparks that rivaled any Fourth of July display I've ever seen. (KJ)

Forty Days and Forty Nights. 2002. Michael Lehmann. There are one or two shots of Flyer 5180 on Route 7, a Breda, and a gratuitous shot of the Presidio Yard showing trolleys coming in. (Ronald Kiebler)

Forty-eight Hours. 1982. Nick Nolte. Some interesting shots of etb overhead and special work and at least four Flyers, one of them fairly good, plus a shoot-out scene in the Metro subway while a Boeing monster passes below and the culprit passes up a K car to grab an L car.

Foul Play. 1978. This is a Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase movie with a great shot of Market St. with Flyers, and many scenes with overhead, and a few PCCs thrown in for good measure.

French Connection I. 1971. Marseille etbs, the original version.

French Connection II. 1975. There's an excellent shot of a Marseille etb sparking though circuit contactors.

Genevieve. 1953. Kenneth More. There is a moving scene with some overhead in an English town. In the final scene the featured car gets stuck in some remaining track of the London three-rail conduit system on the Westminster Bridge.

Getting Even with Dad. 1994. San Francisco trolleys here and there including one which has a minor role in the movie. A ride on an N-car, too. Movie gets one and a half stars (Maltin).

Golden Eye. 199-. St. Petersburg Overhead.

Guess who's coming to dinner. (1967). There is a rear end shot of a MH on Sutter St. in SF.

Harry in your Pocket. 1973. Shot partly in Seattle, it features a Twin Coach at the 4th and Pike loading stop, where a pickpocket pickpockets a bus•passenger boarding the trolley.

Heart and Souls. 1993. Features a fake etb (a GM) in San Francisco with poles and real retrievers. The trolleybus has the amazing ability to run on streets and fields with no overhead, but poles up in the air sparking away through imaginary special work. Two Photos of the GM.

High Stakes. 1989. A Canadian spy movie spoof, featured what is believed to be part of TRAMS historic fleet and featured David Foley doing acrobatics like Harold Lloyd from a BCT Flyer's trolley poles.

House of Games. 1987. Of esoteric interest, this movie a sort of mystery. It This movie was set in NYC but the buildings did not appear familiar. Late in the move, in the second appearance of a red convertible, as it sped away I spied a Seattle trackless turning a corner in the background. It is only a fleeting view but the off side brown and yellow stripe paint scheme was clearly recognizable. Sure enough the credits at the end noted the filming in Seattle. By Rick Sefarian.

Interview with the Vampire. 1994. This movie contains a fine long introducing scene of San Francisco showing overhead lines and an approaching Flyer which moves slowly over the whole screen. Right after it's disappearance, we see the back of another Flyer on the opposite side of the road.

Kosygin is Coming. This movie shot in Vancouver features a Brill that dewires: It's about Kosygin's visit, shot in the 70s. The dewiring scene was taken several times, but the driver couldn't make the poles de wise. So that had someone at the back of the trolley out of camera range reach out the window and pull the poles down!

Lady Killers, The. 1955. Has one or two quick shots of a London trolleybus, and if you look hard you can see the overhead; shot in the area of King's Cross Station.

Little Shop of Horrors. 1960. There is one very brief street scene shot in L. A. where LA etb running wire and feeder cable appear.

Love Bug, The. 1969. There is an ultra brief side view of a S. F. St. Louie or M-H.

Love Story. 1970. There is a quick shot of PS emerging out of the tunnel with the wires bobbling up and down.

Midnight Express. 1979. A brief view of Istanbul overhead on the famous bridge.

Milk. 2008. Flyers are seen on Market St. in the Castro district.

Mother's Justice, a. 1991. Early scenes contain shots of Vancouver overhead and the Yen Lock restaurant.

Never On Sunday. 1960. A brief shot of a Pireaeus etb, plus some good shots of a Pireaeus streetcar. In the video version of this film, the trolley poles of the electric trolleybus are cut off.

Nine To Five. 1980. There is a shot of a Flyer pulling away from a stop leaving a passenger behind on the sidewalk.

Odd man Out. 1947. James Mason. Filmed in Belfast with several trolley scenes.

The Organization. 1971. Filmed in San Francisco starring Sidney Poitier.

Real World. ( MTV ) It was shot in Seattle this year. Very occasionally there is a brief glimpse of an ETB. More often they show the Waterfront Streetcar, which runs past the humble domicile.

The Red Violin. Some shots of Shanghai overhead.

Roman Holiday. 1953. There are some wonderful shots of Rome's overhead and a great shot of a rigid 3 axle Fiat turning.

Romeo and Juliet . With Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Daince, there are several scenes of trolley overhead since the movie was shot in Mexico City though set in Florence. Florence, by the way, did have electric trolleybuses until about 1973. They have since returned there, but expansion has been slow.

Romeo Must Die. 2000. San Francisco overhead. (Terrible movie; I watched only a small part of it and don't know if any electric trolleybuses appeared in it or not.)

Rumble in the Bronx.1996. Vancouver overhead plus Flyers. Set in the Bronx, but the North Shore Mountains appear, and as one wag noted, there are no mountains in New Jersey.

Run for Your Money, a. 1949. Alec Guiness. No shots of trolleys or overhead, but a little old lady sitting on a tube tells someone how to get somewhere: "Take trolleybus 6xx" a couple times. I cannot remember the number of the route, but it was probably in the Twickenham area of West London. The lines in this area were the last to go in 1962.

Saving Silverman. There is one scene located outside a porn store where a
reflection of a Vancouver E900 can be seen in the window. The film is set in Seattle.

Sister Act. 1992. There is a scene shot on a street with overhead, but they chose to use a diesel bus. (This could be Mrs. Doubtfire the a diesel bus was used on the 22 Fillmore line, properly signed.

Slaughter in San Francisco. 1981. One shot of a Marmon and a PCC coming in the other direction. Submitter says movie is the worse one he has every seen.

Take the Money and Run. 1969. (Woody Allen). There are CTA M-Hs here.

Tales of the City. 1997. (MTV). Shots of the #1 California and #41 Union overhead. (TV movie).

Topkapi. 1964. This move contains two brief shots of electric trolleybus wires and a brief shot of a streetcar in Istanbul.

Vertigo . 1958. There are three quick shots of SF's Twin Coaches plus a shot of Geary and Stockton. Visible are the wires on Stockton St. and two-way electric trolleybus trolley wires crossing the remaining streetcar trolley wires on Geary for the B and C lines, and the track is gone! For birdcage fans, there is a very quick shot of two of them on Sutter St.

Wedding Planner, The. 2000. The movie is set and filmed in San Francisco, and there are a couple of VERY BRIEF, fuzzy shots of Flyer E-800 trolleys in the background. The following is a quote from the director of the film: "My big edict to the locations scout was that I didn't want to see any cable car wires or power lines. Also, I didn't want to emphasize the city's hills. I wanted to take the clichés away from the city and make it look more European," says Shankman. "That way, the romance of the city would shine through." (Guess this guy has never been to any European cities with overhead systems.)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit. 1988. In this film, they ran a replica P. E. Hollywood car with both poles up. They travelled in a cartoon taxi on a viaduct that would have still had LARY tracks in 1947 when the movie took place. Since it was filmed in 1988 or so, it didn't. (not exactly an electric trolleybus shot.)

There's a movie with Kate Hepburn set in Chicago but filmed in Seattle and has one great shot of 1st Ave. overhead. Chicago, as you know, had electric trolleybuses. Name of movie is forgotten.

Any film shot in Moscow is likely to have a ZIU in it.

I just remembered that I saw a Russian film circa 1935 shot in Moscow. In one scene the main characters were riding an open top double deck etb, and it went through overhead (which is low over the second deck) and had shots of several other etbs. It's called 'Vesna' (Spring).

I caught a glimpse of an Italian movie in which there were several trolleys passing by on the street.

One of the Dirty Harry movies had a few scenes of San Francisco overhead.

I've seen a Flyer in Toronto in a movie, which was so bad that I can't remember the name of it.

Trolleys in Television (excluding the news)


In the early '70's, PBS aired a story about an elderly man in Cambridge who acts as a guardian to a delinquent adolescent girl. There were scenes featuring interior and exterior shots of a beat up MBTA P-S. Come to think of it, when I was there in 1974, *all* the MBTA ETBs were beat up. :-)

Several X-Files had Vancouver trolleybuses in the background. One episode even used the Surrey Brills for a five minute scene. Another show which was set in Baltimore had several trolleybuses travelling down Hastings Street in the background.

Streets of San Francisco. This show featured lots of bits and pieces of Muni"s Marmons and especially the Twins. Rumor had it that the producer was a traction nut.

This (the Red Violin) reminded me of a Shanghai TV series (produced locally) many years ago; in this movie, a young boy who was disappointed in love just saw everything to be an eyesore. As he wandering through the streets at night, he approached the back of a trolley-bus, without any hesitation he pulled off the poles of the trolleybus and quickly ran off. (from Zhiyuan Jiang).

Viper. A show called "Viper" was shot in Vancouver for a while and featured a scene in one episode in a "junkyard" filled with ETBs; These were the Surrey Brills just as in the X-Files episode. (from Derrick Brashear).

War of the Worlds. 1953. Gene Barry. LA overhead.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. 1962. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. LA overhead.

This page last updated 11 APR 2011