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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Showbusiness trade paper 'Variety' reported that "the production takes its title from hobos crowning 'Lee Marvin' "emperor" for riding Ernest Borgnine's train even a mile, something no other hobo has ever accomplished." 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 »
There's only one 'bo that's got the stuff to try me, and you ain't even on the list.
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This is a man's movie: ugly, violent, and pessimistic...it's great!
This movie scared the hell out of me when I was little, mostly because I'd never seen an evil Ernest Borgnine. With his fierce eyes, maniacal laugh, and drop-forged fists, he commands every scene with a demonic self-assurance. You have to see this movie just to see Borgnine, he's perfect as the railway conductor. He's like a violent gorilla in a conductor suit. Lee Marvin as Number One mumbles his way through the movie with an impressive vocabulary and intelligence that belies his appearance. He wanders about waxing philosophical about the state of the world, the battle between good and evil, and his place in the grand scheme of things. Keith Carradine wouldn't have been my choice for the role of the young kid, he just wasn't very convincing and some of his lines come off a bit forced and awkward. One of the other reviewers mentioned the photography, and I'm left wondering how they got some of the shots, especially considering the movie was made thirty years ago with gigantic, bulky cameras. There are scenes where the train is way out in the middle of nowhere and the camera is actually pacing the train and the action that happens on it; great photography. This is a very good film and worthy of all the praise it gets from the other reviews.
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