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Film Review: “Who is Bozo Texino?”

April 5, 2010

Who Is Bozo Texino?

With impressive cinematography shot on super8 & 16mm film, and set behind an original score of excellent blues this is the pinnacle of culturally centric Railroad Films. This centers around the zietgiest of the culture of both Railroad employees and hoboes who write and draw “monikers” false names and time-efficient but beautiful sketches on railroad equipment with chalk and grease pens, not spraypaint graffiti. It endeavors to track down the well known “Bozo Texino” a moniker that had been in use dating back 70 years to the steam era on the Missouri Pacific. Just wait ’till you see the man behind the chalk.

The entire film is in black and white, and it really adds to the stark beauty of the scenery they travel through between camera interviews with some of the most legendary hobos to ride the rails in the 15 years Bill Daniels took to shoot this film. The sound quality is unusually excellent, the ambient sounds of EMD locomotives echoing off the freight cars in the yard, the interesting cacophony of steel-on-steel, and the gravely, hoarse voices of those sinewy men who ride the rails makes it just as enjoyable as the visuals.

The film seemed to be shot from the late 1980s until the early 21st century. A vast majority of the film is on the Southern Pacific in and Around California. From a white-knuckle ride on a TOFC “Piggyback” train down the Coast Line from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles, to Roseville over Donner Pass to Reno (in the snow, no less!) and Adventures around Dusmuir. There are Jaunts across the desert to Salt Lake City, Cheyenne WY, and All Over Texas.

The Interviews are really quite interesting. They range from a classic Vietnam Vet who is disenchanted with the specter of modern “Society” to some of the classic artists like “Herby” and the very very well read and intelligent “Colossus of Roads” I won’t give away the ending or the more colorful interviewees but I suffice to say there isn’t a dry or uninteresting one among them.

The original musical score is fantastic, and made it quite a pleasure to see the nicely composed vignettes of the waning days of the Espee roll past my screen.

I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the movie directly from Bill Daniels himself at his website for just $18. It’s 56 minutes of high art on the high iron.

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