Monorails on Film and TV
by Kim Pedersen

page nine of ten

Inspector America in Seattle
Inspector America, 2011 (TV)
History Channel's 'Inspector America' is Timothy Galarnyk. He is an infrastructure safety inspector, tapped by TV to travel the country inspecting infrastructure. In the Seattle episode, he looks at the city's crumbling seawall, earthquake-damaged viaduct and the Mercer Mess, a traffic nightmare near Seattle Center. After inspecting the work being done to improve the Mercer Mess, Galarnyk says, "This city could have solved their problems years ago." Then comes the only glowing report in the hour, and it's for the Alweg-built Seattle Center Monorail. He gets a tour under the train and then takes a ride. At the end of the ride he expresses frustration over the one-mile length. "Seattle really missed the boat when they didn't expand the monorail system, and now they're faced with a traffic nightmare." Indeed.


Not bad for 1943
Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011 (Movie, DVD)
Sickly Steve Rogers is transformed into super soldier Captain America in Marvel Comics' fifth superhero film. The story takes place in World War II, but is rich with science fiction gizmos including flying wings, super tanks, blaster ray-guns and yes, a fast monorail. Experience it in 3D Blu-Ray and you have yourself two hours of eye candy adventure.

Newspaper ad for fair fades to...

opening shot of Captain America's World's Fair sequence



Real Steel, 2011 (Movie, DVD)
In this film's version of the future, human boxers have been replaced by robots. Numerous scenes were filmed in Detroit, and in one quick pan-down shot a monorail was superimposed on the Detroit PeopleMover track. If you want to see the film just because there's a monorail in it, it's probably not worth it. Hugh Jackman stars as the former boxer, turned robot boxer controller Charlie Kenton.

furthering the confusion over Detroit's Peoplemover, yet monorail on film



Pina, 2011 (Movie, DVD)
Pina is a German 3D documentary about avant garde choreographer Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal dance company. Dancers perform at various Wuppertal locations, and several scenebs prominently feature the famous Schwebebahn. One pillow/dancer performance takes place on the train while it cruises through the city.

Pillow-stomping dancer on board the Schwebebahn


Danny Koker


Counting Cars, 2012 (TV) A couple spinoff TV 'reality' shows have resulted from the popular History Channel Pawn Stars show, including Counting Cars. In between stories about Count's Kustoms' owner Danny Koker modifying classic cars and motorcycles, various scenes of Las Vegas are shown for atmosphere. Las Vegas Monorail is shown as part of those shots, so we're including this car show on our monorail website.

Screen capture of Las Vegas Monorail scene


Grassroots 1
Beginning to end, monorail is film's star

Grassroots 2
Seattle Center Monorail in 'Grassroots'

Grassroots 3
TMS credits at end of 'Grassroots'
(spelling error Photoshop-corrected here)

Grassroots, 2012 (Movie, DVD) After losing his job with the Stranger newspaper, journalist Phil Campbell (Jason Biggs) reluctantly agrees to help his friend Grant Cogswell (Joel David Moore) with his bid to win a seat on the Seattle City Council. Cogswell's election issue is the expansion of the city's monorail. Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, 'Grassroots' is based on the book written by the real Phil Campbell, but the movie bears as much resemblance to the true story as does 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.' How could the Seattle monorail grassroots effort be told without a character named Dick Falkenbury? That said, Gyllenhaal shines a brilliant light on monorail in a movie, like no other Hollywood filmmaker has done to date. Of note are the funny and passionate arguments Cogswell makes for monorail. One example from the screenplay:

Grant: A promise from the 1960s Phil. From the world’s fair, from before we were born. A super-assed modern mass transportation system, that was to have spread its wings all over the city, barely touching the neighborhoods it was to pass over. And you know why? Look at the base, smaller than a taco stand. But there’s only one stop in the middle of nowhere in downtown. Two idiot miles long to a really useful Space Needle. But it’s electric, and elegant as s#!*. A miraculous machine, and listen, silence, right? Like the breeze, like, like, magic. But most important of all, it’s cheap. And you want to know how many times McGiver and his f*%$ing f*%$ goons have voted it down, so they could build whatever the s#!* they wanted, stealing millions of all those good folks living right down there? You know how many times? A zillion. To make money for building those. See? Highways that have bisected and trisected our beautiful city. And now they want to build on the ground, right in middle of our traffic jams, a heavy f*%$ing tank train system. Exactly, which they call light rail, since of course they’re lying about that too.

Forget the Simpsons episode, show your friends 'Grassroots' and then perhaps do something.

Grassroots 4
Jason Biggs and Joel David Moore on the monorail


Movie Poster


This Is The End, 2013 (Movie, DVD) Seth Rogen and a bevy of Hollywood notables play themselves in this crazy and crude black comedy. In typical celebrity fashion, the trapped stars bicker when the apocalypse dawns. Spoiler alert: Heaven, according to this film, includes a monorail. Even on a 70" TV it's possible you might not see it, but it's there.

Evidently heaven has monorails, dope smoking and roller coasters


Movie Poster


Chocolate, 2013 (Movie, DVD) A young autistic woman discovers she has the ability to absorb precision fighting skills. You can figure out the rest. One hour into the film there's a brief look at the Kitakyushu Monorail at Kokura Station.

This fellah got some bad news, so he smashes his cell phone as monorail passes



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