The earliest American film listed in '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider.
The film uses simple editing techniques (each scene is a single shot) and the story is mostly linear (with only a few "meanwhile" moments) but it represents a significant step in movie making, being one of the first "narrative" movies.
The film was originally distributed with a note saying that the famous shot of the bandit firing his gun at the camera could be placed either at the beginning or at the end of the film. All known prints put it at the end.
The final shot of a gun being fired toward the camera had a profound effect on audiences. As cinema was in its infancy, many people who saw the film thought that they were actually about to be shot.
The original camera negative still exists in excellent condition. The Library of Congress, who holds it, can still make new prints.
This is the first of over 20 screen appearances of veteran Western actor Tom London. He was cast in the role of the locomotive driver, his real life job.