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12 April 1999 (USA)  »

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Just a bunch of recollections of folks who traveled the rails in the 1930s.
21 April 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This installment of the long-running PBS series, "The American Experience", is about folks who rode the rails due to poverty and the Depression during the 1930s. Not surprisingly, the focus is on the young homeless who rode these trains--probably because the older 'hobos' were dead by the time this film was made in 1999. It consists of narration, photos and LOTS of interviews with people who lived this life. Almost all of them got on their feet by WWII, though one crazy old guy STILL sneaks aboard trains now and then--for nostalgia's sake. Though, why he'd be nostalgic about being hungry, cold, often alone and harassed, I have no idea! For the most part, it's mildly interesting and a good historical document of a time of poverty in this nation. I doubt, however, if most folks would find this all that interesting--and "The American Experience" did a fair job in this task.

The most interesting thing I learned from this film is that the Warner Brothers film "Wild Boys of the Road" actually ENCOURAGED the teens to take to the rails---even though it was meant as a social indictment of this and the country's indifference towards these young folks.


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