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Emperor of the North (1973) Poster

Trivia

This film was made and originally released as "Emperor of the North Pole." After initial screenings, Twentieth Century Fox executives feared that audiences might think the title indicated a Christmas movie or an Arctic exploration story and so shortened the title to "Emperor of the North," a change that made little sense in terms of audience expectations and none at all in light of the fact that "Emperor of the North Pole" is a hobo term used extensively throughout the film.
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One of seven film and TV works that actors Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin both worked on.
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Willis Kyle, President of the Oregon, Pacific and Eastern Railway, allowed the film company to have unlimited access to his company's rolling stock for the film.
Based in part on the books 'The Road' by Jack London and 'From Coast to Coast with Jack London' by "A-No.-1", the pen name of Leon Ray Livingston.
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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.
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Sam Peckinpah replaced Martin Ritt as director. Then, Robert Aldrich replaced Sam Peckinpah. Martin Ritt was originally slated to direct but was fired from the production. Sam Peckinpah was approached next but he couldn't agree with the producers on money. The project was then offered to, and accepted by, Robert Aldrich, who had previously directed the film's two top-billed leads, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine, in The Dirty Dozen (1967) around six years earlier.
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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.
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Keith Carradine's character Cigaret is named after the moniker that Jack London adopted on the road.
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Some movie posters for the picture declared: "Lee Marvin & Ernest Borgnine meet in the fight of the century".
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Final film of Malcolm Atterbury.
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The main locomotive in the film, OP&E #19, was actually converted to burn oil in the 1920s. For the Emperor of the North, the filmmakers removed the oil bunker in the tender, installed a smaller one in its place, and hid it under the coal pile, so that it appeared to burn coal. This was done so that shoveling coal into the firebox could be used as a tool to add suspense.
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The character called Cigaret never smokes in the course of the film.
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The locomotive in the film, #19, still ran on the Yreka Western Railroad for tourist and occasional freight runs until 2008. The line has been severely impacted by the economy, costing it most of its freight and tourist traffic. The future of the line and the locomotive is uncertain, as negotiations continue regarding the future of the rail service.
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Both of the movie's top-billed lead, actors Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin, had won Best Actor Academy Awards. They were for Marty (1955) and Cat Ballou (1965) respectively.
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The film was set in Oregon in 1933. The movie was first released in 1973 thereby making it exactly forty years after the events depicted in the movie were set.
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The film's opening prologue states: "1933 - The height of the Great Depression. Hoboes roamed the land; riding the rails in a desperate search for jobs. Spurned by society, unwanted and homeless, they became a breed apart. Nomads who scorned the law and enforced their own. Dedicated to their destruction was the Railroad Man who stood between them and their only source of survival - The Trains".
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This picture was the first of two Depression era dramas in a year for actor Keith Carradine who in 1974 would be seen in Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us (1974).
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The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Keith Carradine.
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Some movie posters for the picture had a long text preamble that read: "This movie is about one hell of a man who lived when Dillinger [John Dillinger] was slamming banks, and Roosevelt [Franklin D. Roosevelt] was awakening the nation. He's a hard-time fast-tracker who's been where it's mean. A grizzly with a sense of humor, an adventurer with holes in his pockets. A wandering rebel, living off the land by his wits and his fists. He goes it alone, he does what he wants - for the beautiful pure sweet hell of it. Who's going to stop him - you? Now he's taking on his biggest run. A challenge no one ever survived. That's why he has to do it!".
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Showbusiness trade paper 'Variety' reported that "the production takes its title from hobos crowning 'Lee Marvin' "emperor" for riding Ernest Borgnine's train even a mile, something no other hobo has ever accomplished."
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Where the movie was released as "Emperor of the North", show-business trade paper 'Variety' clarified this, and stated that the "film was initially released as 'The Emperor of the North Pole'."
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Lee Marvin received top first billing whilst Ernest Borgnine received second billing and Keith Carradine received third billing.
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The movie's TV spot trailer declared that the picture was from the stars and makers of The Dirty Dozen (1967). This included director Robert Aldrich and actors Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine as well as editor Michael Luciano and producer Kenneth Hyman amongst two others.
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The picture was selected to screen as part of "Apocalypse Anytime! The Films of Robert Aldrich", March 11 - April 8, 1994.
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First announced by Robert Evans as part of Paramount's production slate in1969.
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