Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
A great yet largely forgotten film
By Samuel Hawley
A great yet largely forgotten film. Lee Marvin plays a freight-train hopping hobo with the moniker A-Number 1, Keith Carradine a brash young upstart named Cigarette who hooks up with A-Number 1, while Ernest Borgnine is The Shack, a vicious train boss determined to keep these two hobos off his freight. It was only years after I first saw this movie back in the late 1970s that I learned that A-Number 1 was in fact a real hobo who wrote books about his adventures in the 1910s and 1920s, starting with "The Life and Adventures of A-No. 1: America's Most Celebrated Tramp" in 1910. And "Cigarette"? That was the hobo moniker Jack London used when he was riding the rails--yes, Jack London, the famous author of "White Fang" and other classics. Livingstone wrote a book about their travels together entitled "From Coast to Coast With Jack London" in 1917.
Well, I guess I got sidetracked there--an extended footnotes. Suffice it to say that I LOVE this movie, and would recommend it to anyone.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
Just pure, raw talent telling a compelling and timeless tale of the common man against an oppressor.
By W. B. Phillips
Great concept of a period film, with a great cast. Old movie set during the depression with a duel between a railroad bull, "The Shack" played by Ernest Borgine and A #1, a hobo famous in his time, played by Lee Marvin. This movie was originally released under the title "Emperor of the North Pole" and the title was shortened to "Emperor of the North" for some obscure marketing reason. If you haven't seen it, you are missing a great film. Done well before CGI, the story focuses on the two main characters riding the rails, each trying to outwit and outlast the other. The film is short on special effects and long on acting performances by two of the very best of all time. No pretty boys here. No explosions, or car chases or improbable shoot outs. Just pure, raw talent telling a compelling and timeless tale of the common man against an oppressor.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful. See all 247 customer reviews...
Superb filmmaking portraying everyday realities from the days when Hollyweird was not all about celebrity, bling and SJW's
By Walter OBrien
I especialy admired how this film courageously places squarely before the viewers how the psychotic cruelty and rage of the disenfranchised American middle class led to physical attacks on the hobo camps of the jobless machinists, farmhands and other laboring classes, put against radio boradcasts of how FDR was going to "fix everything" which of course he did not. The problems affecting these folks were not addressed meaningfully until post-1980 and are still a major issue. It is a great antidote to The Waltons style of sugar-coated BS portraying the Thirties of the last century.
Now if only someone would do a film about how psychotically cruel the unaffected midlle class were towards 18 year old males in 1968 apart from the Viet Nam war issues. (But didn't they cover that in The Wonder Years? :>p) You could not get a job if you were of draft age in 1968 but there was still no social safety net which is why we lived ten to an apartment even though we were from good families, were good workers and respected those who respected us.
Hippies were less than 3% of the general youth population. No one seems to "get" this yet it is never mentioned: if you did not have friends or if you did not save up enough cash to bribe your way into steady work you were screwed.