In old comedy films and some classic cartoons, when a scene involves a railroad, there is a chance of a handcar pursuit where one of the character chases another character, also in a handcar usually, by operating a handcar. Usually gets ridiculous when the handcar is able to catch up with a locomotive or is being chased by one. In real life, the handcar has long been replaced for rail crews with special wheel frame attachments on ordinary cars or trucks which are designed to allow such automobiles to travel on the rails to get to a particular location. Compare Racing the Train.
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- Tintin does this in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. The handcar breaks just as he is about to catch up. He then spots a junk pile and motorizes the car by MacGyvering, but the villains succeed at literally derailing him.
- Little Lotta has this happen. However, given that the handcar is powered by Lotta, the engineer's concern that they will "knock it off the tracks" is justified.
- The Villain
- The Crown of the Russian Empire (a Soviet action movie) has the heroine chasing a train on a handcar. She catches up. However, later the villain they've been chasing unhooks the last train car (yes, while the train is moving) with an oil tank on it, and shoots it, causing it to explode. The heroine passes through the resulting fire on the same handcar (and, apparently, through the wreckage of the car itself, although it could've been blaste off the railway).
- Buster Keaton in The General.
- Handcars form part of the chase scene in The Great St Trinians Train Robbery.
- Tonto and a bound and blindfolded Lone Ranger attempt to escape from a train on a handcar at the silver mine in The Lone Ranger.
- Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Max and the tribe of desert children are racing away from Bartertown on a stolen train. One of them looks back to see a horde of Desert Punk vehicles led by Aunty Entity chasing them as well as her chief of guards Ironbar frantically working a handcar and keeping up with everyone. Having been knocked into pool of pig shit last time we saw him, he's so pissed he clearly doesn't need a methane-powered vehicle.
- Italian comedy Le Comiche ("The Comic Actors") starts with a silent film with two fat men in a handcar desperately trying to get out of the way of a steam locomotive. They escape by jumping off the screen into the cinema.
Live Action TV
- Dads Army: The climax of "The Royal Train" involves Hodges on a handcar chasing a runaway train with the platoon aboard, so he can throw them the widget they need to stop the train. Then they throw the train into reverse, and it becomes Hodges on a handcar fleeing a runaway train instead.
- In the Loretta Lynn episode of The Muppet Show, a mix-up leaves Kermit and Gonzo stranded miles from the train station where the show is temporarily set, and they travel back by handcar. At one point they get chased by a locomotive
- On an early episode of Grimm, Monroe gets an old drasinine running to get him and Nick up an abandoned spur to the monster-of-the-week's lair.
- One of the micro games in WarioWare Touched. Complete with being chased by another handcar, Wario in his car and a train respectively for the different difficulty levels.
- Twisted too; it's the boss game for the Dribble & Spitz stage.
- A recurring team mini-game in Mario Party is a race between two handcars, where you have to coordinate with your partner to speed up, slow down, and bank around sharp corners.
- The climax of the western world in Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose has Max and Buster escaping from an oncoming train on a handcar ... which reaches 88 mph.
- Sega's Arcade Game Magical Truck Adventure is all about this; two plucky kids try to get a magic stone that can transport people between dimensions away from a pair of crooks, and the two groups end up chasing each other in handcars through various other dimensions(all of which inexplicably have train tracks) as they try to get their hands on the stone. The game even comes with custom handcar pump controls.
- Looney Tunes
- Ruby Gloom, "Last Train to Gloomsville Part 2".
- Scooby-Doo: Scooby and the gang retrace their path on a handcar in finding the trail of dognappers in "Decoy For A Dognapper." This is after Shaggy and Scooby use the handcar to outpace an oncoming train.
Velma: (after Shaggy imitates a train horn) We can get along...without...the sound effects...thank you.
- G.I. Joe have a variant with Snake-Eyes and Shipwreck on a handcar, being chased by Cobra, but they are occasionally able to get its automatic motor to let it pump by itself for some lengths.
- Roland and Rattfink - Specifically, the episode 'Sweet and Sourdough.'
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode Sidetracked Perry and his human partner Lyla chase after a hijacked train using a Handcar.
- The Looney Tunes Show: In "Ridiculous Journey", Blacque Jacque Shellacque uses a handcar to chase the pets after they hop aboard a freight train.
- Towards the end of the Thomas the Tank Engine episode, "Haunted Henry", Old Bailey chases after Henry on a handcar to try to warn him about an unsafe viaduct.