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Catching Out (2003)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Crime | 11 January 2003 (USA)
This documentary explores the world of hobos and freight train hopping. Filmmaker Sarah George follows Switch and Baby Girl, two hobos who must give up the rails when Baby Girl becomes ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Baby Girl ...
Isaiah ...
Jessica ...
Luther the Jet ...
Lee ...
Duffy Littlejohn ...
Fred Northbank ...
Switch ...


This documentary explores the world of hobos and freight train hopping. Filmmaker Sarah George follows Switch and Baby Girl, two hobos who must give up the rails when Baby Girl becomes pregnant with child. We also meet Lee, who lives in the forest when he isn't riding the rails. We see hobo culture as an adventurous rejection of the modern humdrum of American life. Written by Martin Lewison <dr@martinlewison.com>

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vb: the act of hopping a freight train n: a film about people who hop freight trains ...it changes your perspective completely.


Documentary | Crime


Not Rated


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11 January 2003 (USA)  »

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Filmmaker 'Sarah George' hopped freights on and off for more than two years before she began shooting. See more »

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User Reviews

Hobo culture in the 21st century
18 September 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)

Sarah George's documentary is about people who hop trains and live a kind of contemporary hobo's existence. Her camera captures the sense of an escape from the straight world with its tedious responsibilities and appalling hypocrisies as the wheels clickity-clack under your butt on the hard cold bed of a box car.

Well, that's how I would imagine it. Yet when you're young (in heart as least) and feel the wind in your hair and no load on your mind, a train ride snitched from society may indeed be something like a return to the freedom of some bygone day.

Surprisingly there is an entire counterculture devoted to trainhopping complete with a 'Zine and annual pilgrimages to sacred places. George's film concentrates on some people who have taken up this way of life. She shows them hopping trains, riding trains, being interviewed, dodging "bulls," and in some cases visiting family and friends and talking about the life and themselves and their hopes and dreams for the future. They pass the number around and look askance at the camera and talk about what the future holds. They are not just lost men with nothing better to do with their lives, or young people still seeking what it is they haven't found. Instead George introduces us to a wide range of people including women and married couples, a lawyer, and even some anarchists who try to thwart hunters by scaring their game away with bull horns.

There is a Jack Kerouac feel to this way of life, a pride taken in being outside of society, of being free from the indoctrination and the boxed-in life of the wage earner or the corporate cog. But there is also the terrible question whispering down the track, how long can you go on living this way? For one couple, the birth of their first son brought an abrupt end to the wandering lifestyle. I am reminded of a song from fifty or sixty years ago sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford and others:

Tonight I heard the wild goose cry Winging north in the lonely sky Tried to sleep, but it ain't no use 'Cause I am the brother to the old wild goose.

My heart knows what the wild goose knows And I must go where the wild goose goes Wild goose, brother goose, which is best A wandering heart or a heart at rest?

(Lyrics by Terry Gilkyson)

George didn't interview the bulls or train company executives, although she reports on their "no tolerance" policy toward trainhoppers. And George didn't use any vintage film from, say, the depression when riding the rails was not a means to escape but the best way to get from one possible job site to another, from the grapefruit groves of Texas to the strawberry fields of California. I would have liked a comparison of the old hobos and the new. George does interview some of the older trainhoppers, but even they are too young to have been riding the rails in the days of the depression.

The documentary ends with the high whine of the rails--very pretty actually--and as the closing credits roll down the screen we hear sung the plaintive "Hobo's Lullaby."

Nice, neat documentary that could use a little more depth.

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Where can i find this?? crabbyshark316
Showing on 06/28/2008 at the The Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco tommy-radiohead
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