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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 »


Sarah George

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


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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Release Date:

11 January 2003 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


Filmmaker Sarah George had arranged to interview a famous "bull" (what the hobos call a hired freight yard goon) named Roger the Dodger, but when his railroad, Southern Pacific, was bought out by Union Pacific, he back out of the interview, fearing for his job. See more »

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User Reviews

"Meditation on freedom" isn't such a bad description
23 December 2003 | by JayceSee all my reviews

I recently bought the Catching Out DVD--it was one of the films I didn't get a chance to see at The High Falls Film Festival this year. I did, however, talk with the producer/director Sarah George a few times. The film is technically about the people who hop freight trains, but she described it in the somewhat cryptic phrase, "a meditation on freedom."

See, if someone told you they saw a movie about hopping freights, you might expect to see a bunch of details about the mechanics of the process, like getting past security, where to eat, where to sleep, and how to ride, with some details about several of the people. Catching Out does the opposite and touches on the details only tangentially as it closely examines the personalities of several riders. In some respects, it attempts to answer the question of "why" much more deeply than that of "how."

I guess it's not really "why" that is asked, but what is living?-what is freedom? Most of us just assume that the only way to live is within the gilded cage of society. We're offered limited freedoms and security, and pay with this intangible thing we like to call "responsibility." Before I go off on that too far, let me just ask why do we own anything at all? I mean, consider that you should just be able to go into the woods and make a little shack and eat food that grows in the area-so, to whom, exactly, does your money go to when you pay for your shelter? What exactly is responsibility anyway? Is it worth it?

The film compares the collective knowledge of the audience to the selective experiences of the subjects. That is, most people live life according to the "normal" societal rules (otherwise, everyone would be hopping freights, right?) On the other hand, if you spend your life sitting on freight trains moving from town to town, what's your life like? It's interesting to see the absence of discussion about things that concern the rest of us: money, job, home, career, retirement, taxes, television, movies, etc. Without any of that, what's there to talk about?

I also liked the methods employed. Most of the documentary structure repeats the introduction of another person then alternates between the primary interview and, usually, footage of the landscape out the doors of freight cars. It's unbelievable to see the scenery where there is no reason for commercialization. It's like a "reverse action photograph," in a way: the subject is stationary but the photographer is racing along. There's also several stellar examples of rail-oriented time-lapse photography used to punctuate the segments.

Oh, and the music was expertly selected and top-notch as well.

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