Emperor of the North

Robert Aldrich plumbs the depths of men's illusions about their own power and place in a dark world and finds those illusions empty in this superb action film set aboard a freight train circa 1933. Lee Marvin stars as A-Number-One, king of the hoboes, whose ultimate act of self-assertion will be to ride the previously unridden (by hoboes at least) train of the murderous Shack (Ernest Borgnine). A brutal film, not only because of the extreme physical and emotional violence that the two men inflict upon one another during the course of their duel, but because of the way Aldrich resolutely undercuts all the myths men contrive to rationalize their fight for naked survival.

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