Box Car Blues

Rudolf Carl Ising & Hugh Harman (1930)

Bosko and a pig are hobos in a runaway boxcar.

A train rolls along the tracks in a rhythmic pattern. The train engine blows its whistle three times. The wheel turns into a hand and chokes the whistle to make a honk noise. The two-car train has a stowaway outhouse tied to the back. Inside one of the cars, Bosko and a pig with a banjo are hobos on a train, having fun. Bosko and the pig start playing “Cryin’ for the Carolines” with Bosko scat-singing and the pig on the banjo. He then begins to scat-sing a sorrowful part of the song even causing the pig to tear up.

The boxcar turns to an angle sliding the pig and Bosko toward the wall of the boxcar. The pig is knocked out and unresponsive while the train is climbing up a steep hill. It reaches the top and goes into a dark cave and begins another climb up a steeper hill. It rides like a caterpillar up the hill, inching along until it reaches a section where there is no track. It grabs a sheet of land but pulls down the mountain’s “pants”. The mountain pulls up his pants and the train journey continues. The boxcar carrying Bosko and the pig breaks off, plunging downhill at such speed.

Bosko ventures on top of the oxcar and repeatedly screams for help. The boxcar goes through a series of bumps while Bosko hangs onto a lever. The boxcar goes through three tunnels, at the third one, Bosko screams “Mammy!” The boxcar splits in two but regroups after a few seconds. A low tunnel launches Bosko off and onto a cow on the tracks. A second tunnel launches Bosko back onto the boxcar. A rock launches Bosko into the air. Fearing he might fall off, Bosko holds onto the lever until it collapses onto the train track and again like “Sinkin’ in the Bathtub” getting an array of trees. The cow bellows on the track in fright before Bosko gets a telephone pole to the crotch repeatedly.

Getting back on the car due to a rock, Bosko retreats inside the car. The tracks lead to a tree and the cow is caught in the middle. The boxcar smashes the cow into the tree who walks away outstretched and frustrated while Bosko and the pig land on a small board with wheels, distraught. The two dodge the debris from the boxcar falling from the sky as the pig grabs an umbrella to shield them. When it appears safe, the pig closes the umbrella but then his banjo clocks him in the head provoking the pig to screech in pain and start to whimper. Then Bosko pushes the small cart and plays the banjo before entering a dark tunnel.

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