The Key System/ Bart: The Early Years

The Key System/ Bart: The Early Years

RonRail Pictures

Format: DVD

Length: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

Time period: Late 1930’s to 1958

Location: Bay Area

Sources: Mitch Dakelman, Frank Miklos

Here is a mostly color look at old Oakland area, Key System Electric Lines, and across the bay to San Francisco. A wide array of years, scenes and trolleys. A RonRail Production, my first for this company.

This program seems to be sourced from alot of 16 mm color film. It has that clearness. The films appear original. That means not digitally restored. Overall, it is very watchable. The lighting itself and color balance varies, Some imagery is too dark and sometimes it’s a bit washed out looking. Some of the old black and white is just…ancient. Considering the years and rarity of the subject… ok, let’s see it.

There isn’t any dubbed ‘natural sound’ here. It’s some old dixieland jazz, sounds like vinyl playing as our soundtrack. The announcer has an open microphone and narrates it live. I don’t sense much in the way of a script. He calls out as necessary. In fact, it is a low-budget affair. I’ll give him credit fir straightforwardness. You can here him clear his throat, move a chair a little. Doesn’t detract from the program much. Adds some organic quality to the thing.

The narration is pretty sparse. He often just let’s the music play. Would have like some years mentioned. The attempt at a map is useless. No restoration means; grain, streaks, dust specks etc..

Bonus footage appears , courtesy of Western Railway Museum.

Early BART footage is of lower quality. Appears to be 8mm and has color balance issues. Again, unrestored film. I don’t see where this adds anything to the show, except the running time. The music is updated here. The live mike is still on, and you’ll here the narrator being qued. He seems to have known the older material better. I think this whole BART segment would have not been missed. Even the music loops.. This rather uninteresting chapter, actually drags down the overall program. If you are BART type of railfan..YMMV. It also runs, way, way,  way, too long.

Still, as far as the vintage material, it is a big supply of film in one DVD.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

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