Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Grade 8 Reading Comprehensions

The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grade 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.37

     challenging words:    despicable, felony, hokey, indelible, malign, mind-boggling, newsreel, stilted, unfasten, unmoved, vignette, screenplay, phony, further, matriarch, sidelong
     content words:    Kevin Gilmore, Great Train Robbery, Edwin S., Table Rock, New Jersey, Old West, Thomas Edison, Did Edison, Jameka Johnson

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The Great Train Robbery
By Brenda B. Covert

1     Kevin Gilmore anxiously anticipated the video that had been scheduled. For this session of the motion picture club, a twelve-minute, black-and-white classic called "The Great Train Robbery" was being shown. Filmed in 1903, it was the first narrative film in history! Edwin S. Porter, the man who had conceived, directed, and edited the film, based it on a felony that occurred in 1900. To prepare for the meeting, Kevin had read a short vignette of the crime in an encyclopedia. Butch Cassidy's "Wild Bunch" gang had robbed a train near Table Rock, Wyoming. They stopped the Union Pacific's No. 3 train and forced the conductor to unfasten the passenger cars from the rest of the train. Then they blew up the mail car's safe and ran off with $5,000 in cash.
2     Kevin thought it was funny that the film was shot in New Jersey and Delaware, in areas that closely resembled the country in the Old West. He considered it extraordinary that Porter was a newsreel photographer who worked for Thomas Edison. Did Edison give him any ideas for special effects? Surely working for the great inventor would have been an exceptional experience that would have left an indelible impression on Porter. Some day Kevin wanted to direct movies with mind-boggling special effects. That's why he had recently joined the club.
3     Eventually the lights dimmed, and the show began. Kevin sat forward and studied each scene. He burst out in brief laughter when the first man was shot, but the older members of the club quickly shushed him. Yes, the shooting was despicable, but did they not see how phony it looked? However, Kevin resisted the urge to indulge in further merriment until the startling conclusion. At that point the others' stern looks served only to intensify his amusement.
4     The facilitator, whose personal quirk was to wink after asking a question, stood and explained the reaction to the movie when it was released one hundred years ago. Kevin was amused to learn that audiences, believing themselves to be witnessing a horrific event, would scream and run from the theater in distress. Truly, it seemed an excessive response to a short, hokey movie! Did they not consider the acting to be stilted and the fighting to be fake?

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