IMDb > Emperor of the North (1973)
Emperor of the North Pole
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Emperor of the North (1973) More at IMDbPro »Emperor of the North Pole (original title)

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Down 59% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Christopher Knopf (written by)
View company contact information for Emperor of the North on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 May 1973 (USA) See more »
Only one man can be ... "Emperor of the North Pole" See more »
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
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User Reviews:
Love trains? See this movie! See more (70 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Lee Marvin ... A No. 1

Ernest Borgnine ... Shack

Keith Carradine ... Cigaret

Charles Tyner ... Cracker

Malcolm Atterbury ... Hogger

Simon Oakland ... Policeman

Harry Caesar ... Coaly

Hal Baylor ... Yardman's Helper

Matt Clark ... Yardlet

Elisha Cook Jr. ... Gray Cat (as Elisha Cook)
Joe Di Reda ... Dinger (as Joe di Reda)
Liam Dunn ... Smile
Diane Dye ... Girl in Water

Robert Foulk ... Conductor
Jim Goodwin ... Fakir (as James Goodwin)
Raymond Guth ... Preacher (as Ray Guth)

Sid Haig ... Grease Tail
Karl Lukas ... Pokey Stiff
Edward McNally ... Yard Clerk
John Steadman ... Stew Bum

Vic Tayback ... Yardman

Dave Willock ... Groundhog
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Don Blackman ... Old Shine (uncredited)

Jack Collins ... Dispatcher (uncredited)
Richard Daughty ... The Cub (uncredited)
Bennie E. Dobbins ... Mechanic (uncredited)
Joe Haworth ... Ash Eater (uncredited)

Lance Henriksen ... Railroad worker (uncredited)
Harry Hickox ... Elder (uncredited)
Bern Hoffman ... Halfy (uncredited)
James Kingsley ... Machinist (uncredited)
George McFadden ... Prairie Special engineer (uncredited)
Ralph Montgomery ... Alkee Stiff (uncredited)
Hal John Norman ... Hobo (uncredited)
Danny 'Big Black' Rey ... Hobo (uncredited)
Wayne Sutherlin ... Gink (uncredited)
Forrest Wood ... Station agent (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Aldrich 
Writing credits
Christopher Knopf (written by)

Jack London  short story (uncredited)

Produced by
Stanley Hough .... producer (as Stan Hough)
Kenneth Hyman .... executive producer
Original Music by
Frank De Vol  (as Frank DeVol)
Cinematography by
Joseph F. Biroc (director of photography) (as Joseph Biroc)
Film Editing by
Michael Luciano 
Casting by
Jack Baur 
Art Direction by
Jack Martin Smith 
Set Decoration by
Raphael Bretton  (as Rafael Bretton)
Makeup Department
William Turner .... makeup artist
Production Management
Saul Wurtzel .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Malcolm R. Harding .... assistant director (as Malcolm Harding)
Michael D. Moore .... second unit director
Larry Powell .... second assistant director
Barry Steinberg .... second assistant director
Art Department
John La Salandra .... construction coordinator
Ygnacio Sepulveda .... property master
Maurice Larson .... painter (uncredited)
Stuart MacKenzie .... greensman (uncredited)
Tom Pedigo .... leadman (uncredited)
Dominick Williams .... prop assistant (uncredited)
Sound Department
William Hartman .... sound effects
Don Isaacs .... sound effects
Godfrey Marks .... dubbing dialogue editor
Richard Overton .... sound mixer
Edward Rossi .... sound effects
Theodore Soderberg .... re-recording mixer
Don S. Walden .... sound effects (as Don Walden)
Don Parker .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Howard Wilmarth .... boom operator (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Henry Millar Jr. .... special effects
Tom Fisher .... special effects (uncredited)
Jack Monroe .... special effects (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
L.B. Abbott .... visual effects
Bennie E. Dobbins .... stunts (uncredited)
Jerry Gatlin .... stunt double: Ernest Borgnine (uncredited)
Chuck Hayward .... stunts (uncredited)
James Kingsley .... stunt double: Keith Carradine (uncredited)
Walter Scott .... stunt double: Lee Marvin (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Joe Jackman .... camera operator
Kenneth Peach Jr. .... camera operator (as Ken Peach Jr.)
Robert Bells .... lamp operator (uncredited)
Ray De La Motte .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Robert Duggan .... dolly grip (uncredited)
Robert Duncan .... dolly grip (uncredited)
John Flanagan .... best boy (uncredited)
Don Gerrard .... lamp operator (uncredited)
Paul Gilbert .... generator operator (uncredited)
Orville Hallberg .... camera operator (uncredited)
Bill Hannah .... gaffer (uncredited)
O.T. Henderson .... grip (uncredited)
Roy Hogstedt .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Edward Morey III .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Jack Richter .... key grip (uncredited)
Phillip R. Sarabia .... second grip (uncredited)
Paul Schwake Jr. .... dolly grip (uncredited)
Orlando Suero .... still photographer (uncredited)
Joseph E. Thibo .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Robert Woodside .... lamp operator (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Ed Wynigear .... wardrobe
Richard La Motte .... wardrobe assistant (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Frank Capacchione .... associate editor
Roland Gross .... associate editor
Willie Navarro .... assistant film editor (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Chris Haynes .... driver
Kelly Aldrich .... driver: camera car (uncredited)
Aram Betkijian .... transportation captain (uncredited)
Other crew
Walter Blake .... title designer
Dave Davies .... unit publicist
Howard Hohler .... script supervisor
Robert Sherman .... dialogue supervisor
Betty Berry .... production secretary (uncredited)
Ernie Fuentes .... first aid (uncredited)
Richard Menchaca .... craft service (uncredited)
Carl Skelton .... auditor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Emperor of the North Pole" - USA (original title)
See more »
118 min | 116 min (FMC Library Print)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Australia:M | Finland:K-16 (cut) (1987) | Finland:K-16 (cut) (1973) | Netherlands:16 | Norway:15 | Norway:16 (1973) | Sweden:15 | UK:AA (original rating) | UK:15 (video) | USA:PG | USA:TV-PG | West Germany:16 (f)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

It was Robert Aldrich's intention that the characters played by Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin and Keith Carradine represented the Establishment, the Anti-Establishment and the Youth of Today respectively.See more »
Factual errors: The switch is not thrown for the mail express train to pass by Shack's train as it just enters the junction. In those days, not having the switch thrown would have derailed the mail train.See more »
Hobo:Guess who, Shack? It's the big bad 'bo, Shack. And he's gonna bite your big bad ass!See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Pen Pals (1974)See more »
A Man and a TrainSee more »


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33 out of 35 people found the following review useful.
Love trains? See this movie!, 9 July 2006
Author: tdemos from Oregon USA

The 1970's were known for gritty, sometimes violent movies about cops and criminals (You may remember classics like Serpico, The French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon, the 7 Ups, The Dirty Harry movies). There were a few exceptions dealing with depression-era subjects (Bonnie & Clyde, The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, Days of Heaven) and this mostly unknown and unsung masterpiece with the confusing title.

I was just a teenager when this movie was released in theatres. (There were no DVD's or VHS home releases back then). I caught just a few brief commercial promos on TV advertising "Emperor of the North Pole" and from that moment, I was hooked and had to see it. Then, in the flash of a weekend passing it was gone, yanked from the schedule at the local theatre. Perhaps it was considered too brutish in its violence or perhaps the misleading title "Emperor of the North Pole" kept audiences out of the theatre. There was further confusion for years afterwards when the reissue title came out as "Emperor of the North".

I never did get to see it way back when, but it stayed in my memory and thankfully in the era of satellite dishes and 24 hour movie channels, it lives again for the world to see in all its glory.

For those who love steam engine trains, this movie, (along with "The Train" and "Danger Lights") is an absolute must see. Director Robert Aldrich having completed the acclaimed and commercially successful "The Dirty Dozen" just 6 years earlier had the resources, the artistic courage, and the benefit of working with two veteran Dirty Dozen actors (Lee Marvin & Ernest Borgnine)who just lock-on to their respective characters with perfection.

The casting of this movie, (especially the minor roles of all the bo's and the railroad men) is superb. The cinematography is also fantastic and not only captures the beauty of Oregon, but a sense of the time and place of a depression-era story. Even the changing Oregon weather (alternating rainy-foggy days, with bright sunshine, is depicted accurately). The viewer can actually feel the cold of the soaking rain as the two hobos ride the passenger car. The frequent violence is brutal but a necessary part of the tale.

As for the story itself, the hobo's speak their own language in a kind of closed-society lyrical tongue that seems to be partially inspired by the depression era paintings of Thomas Hart Benton. It's not Shakespeare, but half the fun is trying to figure out what they are saying.

The music track, although it mostly works for the movie, seems oddly out-of-place with the period depicted, as it has a definite 1960's elevator-beautiful music component, at times. Not that this takes away anything from the movie, however. Similar, out-of-the-era music exists in great movies like, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Ryan's Daughter.

Even the effects soundtrack is a masterpiece of tight editing that greatly adds to the enjoyment of the movie. Listen to the whistle blowing of the opposing "mail train" slowly growing in intensity during the scene where the two trains are highballing it to a full head-on crash. Certainly one of the most frightening moments of any "train" picture. This is film-making at its best.

Also appreciated... a subtle moment when a passenger train is pulling into the station and the viewer hears (but does not see) what might be typical comments from the passengers from a 1930's-era train. "The train only stops for a few minutes"..."I think I'll buy a newspaper", etc.

Emperor of the North Pole is great movie and an absolute must see if you are a fan of vintage railroading, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Aldrich, or Keith Carradine. You won't be disappointed!

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