Written by / 6/02/2016 / No comments / , , , , , ,

MARVIN VS BORGNINE IN 'EMPEROR OF THE NORTH'

Lee Marvin & Robert Carradine in this Robert Alrich action flick
Arguably, director Robert Aldrich turned in his best work over a decade before he got down and DIRTY DOZEN...

That is, the entire Film Noir genre was practically named after his severe yet subdued, intensely claustrophobic KISS ME DEADLY, adding cult status with the risky thriller WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, but it's a movie like EMPEROR OF THE NORTH, pitting a folk-hero hobo against a lethal Railroad man in the height of the Depression in a sort of cat and mouse game with taut action and gorgeous exterior that Aldrich pulls of splendidly...

Sid Haig joining in
The eclectic filmmaker's work resembles the antique film stock of a, for instance, Franklin J. Schaffner, or even Richard Fleischer, keeping an "old style" antique look, almost seeming like color was added to black & white film stock, counterbalancing the more modern realism of the 1970's, providing a throwback vibe and allowing actors to, like in NORTH, break into sudden bursts of hysterical laughter wherein you can almost hear the director yelling "Action" and "Cut" in-between the over-the-top hysterical outbursts...

Hell, it even happened in what's considered Sam Peckinpah's greatest achievement (not agreed here), THE WILD BUNCH, after the title bandits, surrounding a campfire, found out they stole bagfuls of slugs. Long story short, some movies didn't have the timeless vibe of a FRENCH CONNECTION or GODFATHER during that time: even though there's a degree of exploitive violence that you won't see in the other more realistic projects. And talk about violent: Ernest Borgnine plays the horrendously awful villain, Shack, equally despised by his employees and fellow railroad workers as he is the bums who know his legendary ways of cleaning up infamous Train 19: by finding any particular stowaway hobo and busting his skull with a mallet, and that's the end of that. It's as if they never existed.

Borg9 going overboard again
The best scenes are the interplay between veteran actors Lee Marvin and Borgnine; Marvin's character a folk hero amongst train-jumpers and vowing to ride old 19 despite the fact it's an almost impossible task. The way he plays tricks on both the machine and the machinist throughout the gorgeous location makes not only for mobile adventure, but dark humor and loads of suspenseful momentum: The irony is that the DOZEN veterans don't spend much time on screen together at all, save for their final battle, which could very well be one of the best man-to-man fights ever filmed. And beforehand, for anyone to "accuse" Borgnine for overacting, well... it's not that much a stretch. But with his face, he can get away with just about anything; and does here, in droves.

Limited Edition Blu Ray
On the softer, younger and more vulnerable side, Keith Carradine's cocky yet vulnerable upstart, Cigaret, who Marvin's character, known simply as "A Number 1," is reluctant to take in as a partner. Lee's no mentor and yet, with Carradine's persistence, he has no choice. Think Jon Voight and Eric Roberts in RUNAWAY TRAIN years later, only they were on the same proverbial boat from the beginning, and here we have no unnecessary love interest to derail the bloody, sweaty ride that, although contrived at times, is never unfocused on what, or rather, who the important elements are: two men doing their jobs, and only one getting paid for it.

RATING: ***1/2
TRIVIA: Many faces turn up quickly without much of a part other than the main four or five leads including Western favorite Matt Clark and THE LONGEST YARD snitch and always villainous Charles Tyner, the ultimate YARD rat who doesn't think much of James Hampton... Speaking of that film, underrated black actor, Harry Caesar, whose bug-eyes seem like they've seen just about everything and everyone, is the coal shoveling man on the train, and as pictured, an actor who'd become a b-movie legend years later, Sid Haig, plays one of many laughing bums, this one holding a turkey, while Marvin's in the process of derailing Borgnine's legacy.
Share This Post :
Tags : , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Featured Post

SWORD & DINOSAUR SEQUEL 'THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT'

Awesome Looking Matte Painting from THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT Year: 1977 Not a respected cult film like THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, wha...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Most Popular Last Year

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM
Movie Reviews, Interviews, Articles and Pop Culture from White Heat to Blue City

FOR TELEVISION REVIEWS

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

TOTAL HITS

Popular Trending

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE
RANDOM QUOTE: "I'm surrounded by cattle... He wouldn't know an interesting face from a sow's belly." Jose Ferrer, Lawrence of Arabia

FAVORITES SHORTLIST

1)THE FEARMAKERS 2)JAWS 3)THE CROWDED SKY 4)RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA 5)ANATOMY OF A MURDER 6)ASH WEDNESDAY 7)SHARKS' TREASURE 8)CANYON PASSAGE 9)THE MAN FROM LARAMIE 10)HOT CARS 11)CURSE OF THE DEMON 12)HARDCORE 13)VIOLENT SATURDAY 14)FALLEN ANGEL 15)DUEL IN THE JUNGLE 16)SWEENEY TWO 17)THE DEFECTOR 18)THE ROARING TWENTIES 19)AIR PATROL 20)THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN 21)THE SERGEANT 22)OTLEY 23)AL CAPONE 24)WILLIAM CONRAD'S BRAINSTORM 25)KILLER FISH 26)SEALED CARGO 27)COMPULSION 28)MY BLOOD RUNS COLD 29)EASY LIVING 30)WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS 31)ATLANTIC CITY 32)JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG 33)CANYON RIVER 34)MADISON AVENUE 35)THE SHARKFIGHTERS 36)DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS 37)QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS 38)SWAMP WATER 39)THUNDER ISLAND 40)THE DAY THEY ROBBED THE BANK OF ENGLAND

ACTORS 1)DANA ANDREWS 2)JAMES CAGNEY 3)MARLON BRANDO 4)JACK NICHOLSON 5)ORSON WELLES 6)PETER O'TOOLE 7)TOM COURTENAY 8)CHARLES BRONSON 9)GENE HACKMAN 10)VICTOR MATURE ACTRESSES 1)VIRGINIA MAYO 2)SUE LYON 3)GENE TIERNEY 4)MERRY ANDERS 5)FAYE DUNAWAY DIRECTORS 1)JACQUES TOURNEUR 2)RICHARD FLEISCHER 3)STANLEY KUBRICK 4)ORSON WELLES 5)OTTO PREMINGER 6)JOHN CARPENTER 7)MAURY DEXTER 8)JOHN LANDIS 9)MICHAEL WINNER 10)SAM PECKINPAH

RARITIES & EXPLOITATION

Popular This Month

CINEMA OF DANA ANDREWS

TRIPPING INTO THE SIXTIES

WESTERN GENRE REVIEWS

All Time Popular

TARGETING THE SEVENTIES

KICKING IN THE EIGHTIES

TALES AND REFLECTIONS

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE