Emperor of the North (1973)

PG   |    |  Action, Adventure, Drama


Emperor of the North (1973) Poster

In 1933, during the Depression, Shack the brutal conductor of the number 19 train has a personal vendetta against the best train hopping hobo tramp in the Northwest, A No. 1.


7.3/10
5,576

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22 May 1999 | Cru3
One of the great unsung films of the 1970's
Robert Aldrich was one of the most interesting American directors of the last 40 years. He moved with relative ease between genres and told his stories in a direct, honest style. This film is one of the unsung gems of the seventies, part adventure film, part social drama, part road movie.

Set during the depression when riding the rails was a way of life for desperate men (and women), the film follows three characters - Lee Marvin, as Number One, a legend among the grizzled hobos congregating along the rail lines; Ernest Borgnine as Shack, the sadistic conductor perfectly willing to do whatever necessary to keep free loaders off his trains; and a young Keith Carradine as Two-Bit, a novice full of bluster and false bravado out to make a name for himself. Marvin takes the kid under his wing; their relationship is part adversarial, as the weary elder tries to educate the fool how to survive on the line. Looming in the background is Borgnine, out to do his job at any cost. Ultimately a wager is made, and Marvin will put his life on the line to best Borgnine and show he is the Emperor of the North.

At times it's a very brutal film - the final confrontation between Marvin & Borgnine is one of the toughest, nastiest fights ever photographed - but it is splendidly made and endlessly fascinating.

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