Film / Emperor of the North

Nobody rides his train for free.

AKA The Emperor of the North Pole. In this 1973 Depression-era film, legendary hobo "A no 1" (Lee Marvin) vows to be the first man to successfully hitch a ride on the train run by the brutal conductor Shack (Ernest Borgnine), who has vowed to prevent such a thing from ever happening. The resulting battle is memorably bloody.

Contains examples of:

  • Cool Train: Oregon Pacific & Eastern No. 19, the locomotive who appears most in the film as head of "Shack's train".
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Try to steal a ride on this train? The conductor will smash your head in with a hammer and watch as you get cut in half by the train wheels.
  • The Great Depression
  • Hobos: Naturally.
  • Hollywood Fire: Averted; Stack gets a full dose of smoke to the lungs when he checks inside a burning boxcar.
  • Runaway Train: Shack pushes his luck, but the train is never out of control.
  • Underside Ride: The hobos try this for part of the journey. Shack retaliates by attaching a large metal pin to a length of wire and playing it out beneath where the hobos are hanging. The pin repeatedly rebounds off the track ties and hits the hobos' bodies with bruising force.
  • Traintop Battle: And under the train...and on the side of the train...