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TOP 100 REVIEWERon April 11, 2011
Interesting, quasi-political film of depression era hobo (Lee Marvin) -
famous within hobo circles for being able to ride any train - trying to
ride one guarded by meanest guy in the world (Ernest Borgnine). He
picks up a young protégé (a very young Keith Carradine) along the
way who -- after much resistance - he accepts as the start of the
next generation of men who live by their wits and go their own way.

The acting is solid throughout. The score is a bit much at times, and
some of the writing is variable, but there are good scenes and
thoughtful ideas about the battle between 'freedom' and playing by the
rules along the way.

Aka 'The Emperor of the North Pole'.
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on April 12, 2016
I enjoyed this movie until I got to the commentary section, which actually made me respect the movie that much more. Dana Polan would have the viewer believe Robert Aldrich set out to make a '70's movie' in every way possible, with a token black fireman, Captain & Tennille soundtrack (it's cheesy yes, but not THAT cheesy!) And that it's condemning the hippy and counter culture generation, more so than being about the depression era. First off Polan knows nothing of railroad jargon when he says the characters names don't mean anything. 'Shack' (Borgnine's character) means caboose. He's the conductor, the 'eyes on the train'. And also could mean he'll kick a hobo in the rear, and/or other rail men find him to be a 'rear end' of a man as well? A#1 (Marvin's character) stems from Class One roads, PRR, UP, NYC, ATSF, etc. He's been to the 5 corners of America, and good parts of Canada as well, all for free on some train and another. 'Cigarette' (Carradine) I believe is considered a 'hot box'. or a troublesome axle. Or, as the name conjures - it's a small vice to make one look cool, to be passed around, bummed in desperation and despair. Whether one knows the jargon or not, the viewer should know these names HAS reason and lore behind them. And the fact Polan cites this movie as a barbaric 'good vs. evil' fight to the death epic akin to a gladiator movie is hysterical. It's about 'pride' - pure and simple. Regardless of the clothes on a man's back, the snickering behind the back by employees and/or the feared loyalty of them. And the pride one can get by betting on them, being connected to one or the other in some way. Yes, Shack is brutal. Borderline psychotic and sadistic. BUT - it's his job to keep freeloaders off his train, and he's prideful of his impeccable record and devotion for the company. A#1 gets to where he wants to go by any means necessary. As long as he has wits, he has his pride. And Cigarette feels that by mere association and stretching the truth will give him pride and respect. The more he hangs in there, the less he'll have to do. And to say the other characters were token placements, country bumpkins lacking intelligence, and ineffective authority I found truly offensive. Black people DID work on the railroads in that era. Not to the levels of conductors and engineers, but certainly as porters, firemen, servers, attendants. The train employees were happy to be working, but forever looking for a 'leg up' on something. Gossip, secrets, bending the rules made for good bets. And good bets could pay good money. So to say these men were simple, spineless peon like vultures is just as offensive. I'd say Aldrich was inspired by Bonnie & Clyde, and quite possibly Boxcar Bertha and likewise Corman movies. I think like Kubrick, the studios didn't want to spend BIG money in the 70's, and Aldrich's budget may have been restricted somewhat. Yes, the counter culture, war protestors, and conservative America could more easily associate and appreciate the 'then and now' of the olden days in modern mayhem. All in all, this is a movie that puts a little dirt on our macho heroes. A little snarl and bite to the ones we thought so nice before. The Dirty 30's were exactly that. But, it didn't break peoples spirits as much as many of us think. Above the law and under the table was the best way to survive. And in the end, no one gets a free ride just for being there. You have to earn pride before you get to the end of the line. That's why this movie remains a cult classic to this day, and certainly not for it's 70's production nostalgia as Dana Polson thinks it's all from. His review for Black Caesar would issue a death warrant by the NAACP I'm sure! LOL
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon April 11, 2011
Interesting, quasi-political film of depression era hobo (Lee Marvin) -
famous within hobo circles for being able to ride any train - trying to
ride one guarded by meanest guy in the world (Ernest Borgnine). He
picks up a young protégé (a very young Keith Carradine) along the
way who -- after much resistance - he accepts as the start of the
next generation of men who live by their wits and go their own way.

The acting is solid throughout. The score is a bit much at times, and
some of the writing is variable, but there are good scenes and
thoughtful ideas about the battle between 'freedom' and playing by the
rules along the way.

Aka 'The Emperor of the North Pole'.
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on March 24, 2006
A fantastic action drama about hobo's in hard times hitching their way across america on trains. Lee Marvin and Keith Carradine are two such hobo's who dare to ride engine #19; who's conductor is Shack, (A big tough psycho played to perfection by Ernest Borgnine) who has no problem in lethaly dissposing of any freeloaders. Great cinamatography, and a great theme song sung by Marty Robbins. Kind of a precursor to the 1985 action hit RUNNAWAY TRAIN, only set during the time of the depresion.
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on March 12, 2016
Both Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine were great, in this Great Depression-era film.

Ernest Borgnine was especially great, since throughout the movie he was, essentially, the face of evil. In fact, you could see the cruelness and evilness, in his eyes. Frankly, I think Ernest Borgnine should have won an Oscar, for best actor, due to the character he played, in this flick.

This movie might not be suited, for young children (violence). Okay, for teens and adults, though.
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on April 28, 2013
Best railroad movie ever. Incredible film with a superb cast depicting the depression era. Lee Marvin and Enrest Borgnine at their best.
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on March 12, 2014
The best movie ever. I ordered this for my husband and I agree with him very very good. Like my husband says this film is 20 years old don't you know this is good?
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on May 24, 2016
For some of you it might just be OK. But I like most everything with trains in it.
I know how hard it must be to get some of the footage and I just love it.
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on November 10, 2013
If you like Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine you will enjoy this movie. I liked it very much and look forward to watching it again in the near future.
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on June 4, 2013
Have not seen this movie yet. Bought it as a gift waiting to watch it with my friend, soon I hope
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