It is during the great depression in the US, and the land is full of people who are now homeless. Those people, commonly called "hobos", are truly hated by Shack (Borgnine), a sadistical railway conductor who swore that no hobo will ride his train for free. Well, no-one but "A" Number One (Lee Marvin), who is ready to put his life at stake to become a local legend - as the first person who survived the trip on Shack's notorious train.Written by
Brian Peterson email@example.com
Some movie posters for the picture had a long text preamble that read: "This movie is about one hell of a man who lived when Dillinger [John Dillinger] was slamming banks, and Roosevelt [Franklin D. Roosevelt] was awakening the nation. He's a hard-time fast-tracker who's been where it's mean. A grizzly with a sense of humor, an adventurer with holes in his pockets. A wandering rebel, living off the land by his wits and his fists. He goes it alone, he does what he wants - for the beautiful pure sweet hell of it. Who's going to stop him - you? Now he's taking on his biggest run. A challenge no one ever survived. That's why he has to do it!". See more »
Among the freight cars seen in the train yard is a plug-door boxcar. These were not invented until the 1960s. See more »
[Shack is chasing Cigaret atop the train after having dealt with the aftermath of the train stopping short]
Got yourself a game leg, hey kid? You should have jumped off! That would have been the smart thing to do. You should have jumped Kid! I got to hand it to you kid, you're smart. You play both sides against the middle. Have your self a high old time. But now it's lasted long enough. Oh, you can keep running kid, but you're running out of train!
[...] See more »
All UK versions are cut by 3 secs by the BBFC to remove shots of 2 men being hit with a live chicken during a fight scene. See more »
Robert Aldrich was one of the most interesting American directors of the last 40 years. He moved with relative ease between genres and told his stories in a direct, honest style. This film is one of the unsung gems of the seventies, part adventure film, part social drama, part road movie.
Set during the depression when riding the rails was a way of life for desperate men (and women), the film follows three characters - Lee Marvin, as Number One, a legend among the grizzled hobos congregating along the rail lines; Ernest Borgnine as Shack, the sadistic conductor perfectly willing to do whatever necessary to keep free loaders off his trains; and a young Keith Carradine as Two-Bit, a novice full of bluster and false bravado out to make a name for himself. Marvin takes the kid under his wing; their relationship is part adversarial, as the weary elder tries to educate the fool how to survive on the line. Looming in the background is Borgnine, out to do his job at any cost. Ultimately a wager is made, and Marvin will put his life on the line to best Borgnine and show he is the Emperor of the North.
At times it's a very brutal film - the final confrontation between Marvin & Borgnine is one of the toughest, nastiest fights ever photographed - but it is splendidly made and endlessly fascinating.
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