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Roscoe Lee Browne
It is during the great depression in the US, and the land is full of people who are now homeless. Those people, commonly called "hobos", are truly hated by Shack (Borgnine), a sadistical railway conductor who swore that no hobo will ride his train for free. Well, no-one but "A" Number One (Lee Marvin), who is ready to put his life at stake to become a local legend - as the first person who survived the trip on Shack's notorious train. Written by
Brian Peterson email@example.com
The title refers to a joke among hobos during the Great Depression that the world's best hobo was Emperor of the North Pole, a way of poking fun at their own desperate situation since somebody ruling over the North Pole would be ruling over a wasteland. See more »
After A-No.1 trips the brakes on the train near the end of the film, Shack tries to get it going again by pushing forward the Johnson Bar and pulling back the throttle. Immediately after he does this, he grabs the Hogger and throws him into his seat, telling him to get the train going. The Hogger pushes forward the Johnson Bar and pulls back on the throttle again, them having magically returned to their previous positions. See more »
This is a man's movie: ugly, violent, and pessimistic...it's great!
This movie scared the hell out of me when I was little, mostly because I'd never seen an evil Ernest Borgnine. With his fierce eyes, maniacal laugh, and drop-forged fists, he commands every scene with a demonic self-assurance. You have to see this movie just to see Borgnine, he's perfect as the railway conductor. He's like a violent gorilla in a conductor suit. Lee Marvin as Number One mumbles his way through the movie with an impressive vocabulary and intelligence that belies his appearance. He wanders about waxing philosophical about the state of the world, the battle between good and evil, and his place in the grand scheme of things. Keith Carradine wouldn't have been my choice for the role of the young kid, he just wasn't very convincing and some of his lines come off a bit forced and awkward. One of the other reviewers mentioned the photography, and I'm left wondering how they got some of the shots, especially considering the movie was made thirty years ago with gigantic, bulky cameras. There are scenes where the train is way out in the middle of nowhere and the camera is actually pacing the train and the action that happens on it; great photography. This is a very good film and worthy of all the praise it gets from the other reviews.
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