The Emperor of the North Pole

Film, Action and adventure

Time Out says

Set during the Depression, Aldrich's film starts out from a lovely gamesmanship premise derived from the legendary enmity between railwaymen and the hoboes who rode the rails. It's a duel to the death, developed with dark humour and nailbiting excitement, between Borgnine's sadistic guard - up to all the tricks and armed with a fearsome array of sledgehammers and steel chains - and Marvin's laconically contrary hobo, whocannot resist the challenge of making a lie of Borgnine's boast that no one has ever jumped his train and lived to tell the tale. A pity, perhaps, that the script pursues a vague political allegory instead of exploring its characters more deeply, but the vivid background detail (including a Baptist river-dunking which is the occasion for a cheeky theft of clothes) is brilliantly realised.


Release details

119 mins

Cast and crew

Robert Aldrich
Christopher Knopf
Lee Marvin
Ernest Borgnine
Keith Carradine
Charles Tyner
Simon Oakland
Matt Clark
Elisha Cook