Rediscovered: ‘Bo Writin’ on the Wall

A No. 1

Image: Ernest Borgnine as Shack the railroad bull vs. Lee Marvin as the legendary hobo A No.1 in Robert Aldrich’s Emperor of the North — a definitive hobo/train cinematic statement. Brutal.

Most people I’ve met have never heard of this one, and of those I bet several think it was just made up. Well, sure, but made up out of the stuff of the real world.

For example, A No. 1 was real enough, and Brian Leno just popped me an interesting link to some hobo graffiti along the Los Angeles riverbeds which references A No. 1 — might even show his mark. Brian, famous autograph hound, tells me that he “Bought a book a few years back from a fellow that he said had an A 1 autograph.  I doubt it, but bought it anyway — still a cool book to have.”

A No. 1, Emperor of the North Pole.

You know I follow hobo lit. Jack Black. And Jim Tully. And Hammett hanging out with head-breakers on Sapping Day.

If you like that era, too, make sure to hop the internet freight on over and check it out.

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