Nearly a decade before his brilliant starring performance in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, Swedish actor/director Victor Sjostrom topped the cast of Arne Mattson's Rallare. At this point in time, Mattson was alternating between thrillers and romances. Rallare falls into neither category: it is instead a pageantlike paean to the 19th-century builders of the Swedish railroad. Ballong (Sjostrom) and his pal Valfrid (John Ellfstrom) are two of the many stout-hearted, strong-limbed laborers who braved the elements to bring transportation to the length and breadth of Sweden. When not driving spikes or laying track, the two venerable stars while away their time with liquor and women -- and sometimes, with women and liquor. A box-office bonanza in Sweden, Rallare was liberally adapted by Rune Lindstrom from his own novel Nordanvind.
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