Considered the first narrative film, "The Great Train Robbery" was directed and photographed by Edwin S. Porter, a former cameraman for the Thomas Edison Company. Primitive by modern standards, the 10-minute action picture depicts 14 distinct scenes filmed at various locales in New Jersey intended to represent the American West. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, the screen's first Western star, played several roles in the film, including a bandit and a train passenger.
Audiences were thrilled and terrified to watch a gunman in medium close-up fire directly at the screen in the film's final scene ... although Porter suggested to exhibitors it could just as easily be shown at the beginning of the film instead. Named to the National Film Registry in 1990.