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, a sadistical railway conductor who swore that no hobo will ride his train for free.
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Unusual and original comic adventure from director Robert Aldrich, with Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine both at the top of their game. It drags in spots, and the plot meanders towards the end, but there are plenty of genuinely suspenseful sequences and exciting action scenes. For a film set in the 30s, Frank DeVol's score sounds way too 70s.
This movie is one my grandfather showed me because he loved the trains. I fell in love with the characters, their antagonism towards each other, and the build up to one of the most gritty confrontations I've ever seen.
An oddball of a movie that is most enjoyable when viewed as some kind of existential, individualistic allegory....I think. What's certain is Borgnine knew how to play mean better than imaginable (remember Fatso in From Here to Eternity?) and Marvin was the toughest tough guy in movie history and their fight scene is worth the price of admission all by itself. Not Aldrich's best but certainly worth watching.
This is about how far people are determined to go, in order to demonstrate to other people, how great they are. The second thing is, who drives whom? The 'crowd' which makes, owns & imprisons the 'hero' or the 'hero' who is in control of the 'crowd'? Wonderful acting performances of Lee Marvin & Ernest Borgnine. Great violent action movie.