Film / Emperor of the North
Nobody rides his train for free.

Also known as Emperor of the North Pole, this 1973 film was directed by Robert Aldrich and stars Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine.

During The Great Depression, legendary hobo "A no. 1" (Marvin) vows to be the first man to successfully hitch a ride on the train run by the brutal conductor Shack (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...