of the North Pole.
At Rest At Last" , March 26, 2006
Reviewer: Theodore R. Hazen "Jew-Boy" (United States)
- See all my reviews
EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE is my favorite movies, and LEE MARVIN
is one of my favorite actors. I have been waiting for years for
this movie to come out on DVD. I hope the DVD includes features
such as the movie trailer, and the "making of feature"
(which I have seen for sale separately on video tape), and a photo
Why is this my favorite movie? I grew up where the real A-No.1
hung out, where his 12 books on being a hobo were published, and
where he finally settled down, and died. A-No.1 was a real life
folk hero featured in a college class on American Folklore. A-No.1
a.k.a. LEON RAY LIVINGSTON (1872-1944) was born in San Francisco,
and at the young age of 11 young LEON RAY LIVINGSTON ran away
from home and took to the rails. He had a done something, he couldn't
recall exactly what it was, and feared that his parents would
punish him, and rather than face his father he ran away being
inspired by the song, "THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN."
My great grandfather (The Jew) lived in a rooming house in Cambridge
Springs, Pennsylvania, where A-No.1 would stay when he was in
town, and where A-No.1 would meet his future wife. My mother's
father (Steve German) rode the rails when he first came to this
country in 1910. My great uncle Henry L. spent most of his life
living as a hermit in tar paper shacks and hollowed out earth
mounds. When the Gypsies came to town, I would go with him to
listen to the music around the campfire at night. As a young kid
I (Grahamqckr) had to ride the rails as well. It will remain the
happiest time of my life being chased by railroad dicks though
train yards. And I worked in a flour mill where the owner Harry
Moffatt remembered seeing A-No.1 when he would come into town.
A-No.1's books inspired my father (Erie Ted) who was a teenager
in the 19-teens to run away from home on a number of occasions.
He would end up in places like Canada, and Mexico, and his mother
would have to send money for his ticket home.
The books of LEON RAY LIVINGSTON (a.k.a. A-No.1) published
in Cambridge Springs and Erie, Pennsylvania, by A-No.1 Printing
Company are as follows: "Life and Adventures of America's
Most Celebrated Tramp! "A-No.1 The Champion Tramp Of The
World" The Actual True Life Adventures of A-No.1. The famous
tramp who traveled 500,000 miles for $7.61. A-No.1 the King of
the Hoboes. A-No.1 Leon Ray Livingston."
1. Life and Adventure of A-No. 1.
3. The Curse of Tramp Life.
4. The Trail of the Tramp.
5. The Adventures of a Female Tramp.
6. The Ways of the Hobo.
7. The Snare of the Road.
8. From Coast to Coast with Jack London.
9. The Mother of All Hoboes.
10. The Wife I Won.
11. Traveling with Tramps.
12. Here and There with A-No. 1.
He gained fame seldom equaled by anyone who devoted almost
a lifetime to travel. He set out to see the world when he was
only eleven and for thirty-one years and four months he traveled
every where. He said of himself, "I thought when I ran away
from my home in California that I'd see everything in one day,
but I was wrong and it took me thirty-one years to find that out."
LEON wrote articles published in the 1890's which would basis
of his book series. LIVINGSTON published twelve books, which sold
by the hundreds of thousands. He turned to the lecture platform
when his traveling days were over and spoke before thousands of
schools and churches always on the same theme - "Home is
Your Best Place." "KING OF ROAD" - A life of wandering
and traveling, which led into an example for young people through
books and lecturing "Beware of the Open Road." LEON
RAY LIVINGSTON, became famous as "A-No.1 the Tramp. Presidents
Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft asked to meet him.
He soon realized he was trapped in the life of being a hobo,
but realized that many young kids, both boys and girls would run-away,
and got killed on the trains. He spent much time giving lectures
on the evils of running away from home a become a hobo. He was
the greatest success story of someone who took to the trains,
and learned to be a hobo. A-No.1 would not admit it, but he actually
taught many people how to hop fright trains, because he spent
much time trying to convince young people to go back home. From
money from his books and lectures, he bought one way tickets home
for these kids. His greatest success story was a young JACK LONDON
who when home to lead the straight and narrow to live as an author.
Many young hoboes may also have written this moniker on water
tanks, railroad freight buildings, and chalk it on box cars. At
one time it was more common to find "A-No.1' inscribed somewhere,
than "KILLROY WAS HERE!" A-No.1 In hobo lingo it means
"number one man," and later it came to mean, that you
are "all right (or okay) with me." The thumbs up sign,
"A Number One."
JACK LONDON whose "Moniker" or hobo's nickname was
SAILOR JACK or CIGARET. In the book "FROM COAST TO COAST
WITH JACK LONDON," by A-No.1, he finally gets tired of hearing
CIGARET run at the mouth all the time, trying to maintain the
character of JACK LONDON, so he grabs him, and throws him off
back of a moving train. So line in the movie (EMPEROR OF THE NORTH
POLE) has real meaning, LEE MARVIN says as A-No.1 to CIGARET (KEITH
CARRADINE) (to his face.), "Hey kid you got no class......(Kids
face goes blank as he is suddenly grabbed, and tossed from the
moving train into the stream below. The kids face rises out of
the water. A-No.1 walks back in the car.).......Hits the bums
kid. Run like the devil. Get a tin can and take up mooching. Knock
on back doors for a nickel. Tell them your story. Make em weep.
You could have been a meat eater kid (A-No.1 pointing at him.).......But
you didn't listen to me when I laid it down......(Kid swings hand
in water.)......Stay off the tracks. Forget it. Its a bum's world
for a bum. Your never be Emperor of the North Pole Kid. You had
the juice kid, but not the heart, and they go together. Your all
gab, and no feel, and nobody can teach you that, not even A-No.1.
So stay off the train, she'll throw you under for sure. Remember
me for that. So long kid."
EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE never mentions that the LEE MARVIN
character is an author of books. The real A-No.1 kept a series
of travel journal notebooks on his person, where as the LEE MARVIN
A-No.1 is just living his life. "FROM COAST TO COAST"
is an interesting adventure novel. It centers around the hobo
partnership of the author, LEON RAY LIVINGSTON, a.k.a. A-No.1,
and JACK LONDON (who was a slightly better writer than A-No.1).
They travel from New York City out to San Francisco by rail, and
have a crazy an adventure on the way. A-No.1 feels very conflicted
about his life on the road as a railroad tramp. He clearly hates
it, yet cannot quit the life. All of A-No.1's books are a must-read
for people who are interested in the psychology of the hobo-tramp,
language and culture of the period. JACK (JOHN GRIFFRITH) LONDON
(1876-1916) in his book, "THE ROAD-HOBOES THAT PASS IN THE
NIGHT," published in 1907, does not even mention A-No.1 once
in the long list of hoboes and tramps that he encountered! However,
he does talk about SKYSAIL JACK who in the movie only rode SHACK'S
train only in a coffin.
This may be Diane Dye's only on screen performance as the girl
in the water in the river baptism scene. Sid Guth is the preacher.
Preacher: Hallelujah brothers and sisters. Hallelujah!
(Joined in by people on bank of river.) ..............(Pause.)
Praise the Lord and give me another sinner. Your next brother.
(Pause.) Your next brother. (Taking the hands of A-No.1.) And
Jesus said unto me come to me who are weak and heavy laden...............Oh,
Lord is there truth among us. Sanctify thy truth. Have you sinned
A-No.1: I have sinned.
Preacher: How then can the Lord sanction such neglect?
(Pause.) I will immerse you rather than have you go to the Presbyterians.
A-No.1: Oh, save me from the Presbyterians.
Some minor technical problems with the movie are:
(1) The radio speech of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as
heard in SMILE's caboose took place on a different date than in
the movie, October 22, 1933. The fireside chat from President
Franklin Roosevelt is from 28 April 1935. Hey, it works for the
scene, and for the move as a whole.
(2) ERNEST BORGNINE who plays the murderous bug-eyed SHACK.......A
is a brakeman, and not a conductor. The brakeman is the occupant
of a caboose. Shack's master is a conductor. SHACK may have started
working as a brakeman, and retained the name of SHACK. BORGNINE
is a sadist, who sports a menacing grin, and believes that the
hoboes are the scum of the earth. He will sledgehammer anyone
to death who thinks they can get a free ride on his train. SHACK's
claim to fame is, no one gets a free ride on his train unless
they want to be dead. LEE MARVIN is laconic, immensely proud to
be a hobo, and proud enough to claim he can ride any train for
free. The real A-No.1 was also known by everyone he encountered,
and in a short time it was like he had a rail pass to ride any
train in the country for "free" and no one would put
him off. Even in JACK LONDON's chapter article and book, "THE
ROAD-HOBOES THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT," mentions that "SHACK"
is a "brakemen" who don't bother them, and let them
(the hoboes) sleep all night.
(3) CHARLES TYNER who plays CRACKER........A Cracker (1) -
A contemptuous name for a railroad worker who works below or underneath
a higher grade person. A slang term for poor southern white trash.
Cracker (2) - One who is lazy, brutal, inquisitive, intolerant,
illiterate, ignorant, and of the lowest class. CRACKER is just
CRACKER, and we love him for that. HARRY GAESAH who played COALY
which is a the railroad name of the fireman. They shovel coal
like the stokers on a steam ship, and everything around them would
become black like coal. MALCOLM ATTERBURY who played the engineer
which were known by the name of HOGGER.
An early draft of the script for the 1973 Robert Aldrich classic
THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE, screen play by CHRISTOPHER KNOPF,
the movie takes place in 1905 rather than the great depression.
GEORGE C. SCOTT was originally asked to play A-No.1 because of
his work in the movie FLIM FLAM MAN, but turned it down. GEORGE
C. SCOTT would have been wonderful as A-No.1, but LEE MARVIN has
become the real movie version of A-No.1, forgetting the fact that
the real A-No.1 LEON RAY LIVINGSTON was short, had a moustache,
and was half-Jewish. He could speak Hebrew and Yiddish with the
best of them. GEORGE C. SCOTT has a slick quality about him where
LEE MARVIN has a rough edge quality to him. LEE MARVIN is terrific
as the spry and wrinkled tramp, who long ago forgot when the knocks
stopped hurting, and is a professional tramp (with his skimmer-a
flat hat that won't blow off, goggles, gloves, leather belt, straight
razor blade, butt board, etc., besides the bindle that he lost
to the road kids at the beginning of the movie) much like the
The movie opens with "1933 THE HEIGHT OF THE GREAT
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 enforce their own.
Dedicated to their destruction was the Railroad Man who stood
between them and their only source of survival -- The Trains."
The lyrics of "A MAN AND A TRAIN" by HAL DAVID MUSIC
BY FRANK DeVOL and sung by MARTY ROBBINS. "A Man, and a Train.
A train and a man. The both try to run as far, and as far as fast
as they can. But a man is not a train, and a train is not a man.
A man can do things that a train never can. Going up a mountain.
Even half way to the top. A minute that a train runs out of steam,
its got to stop. But is a different story, when a man runs out
of steam, he still can go a long, long way, on nothing but a dream..........So
don't try and stop me. So don't try and stop me, because no body
can.............I've got a dream, a beautiful dream, and that
makes me a man..........I've got a dream, a beautiful dream, and
that makes me a man. (Train moves onto siding.) Oh, No don't try
and stop me. Don't try and stop me. No body can. I've got a dream,
a beautiful dream, and it makes me.........Makes me a man."
Men (even if they are hoboes or tramps) are a powerful mythic
symbol, showing the oppressed versus the oppressor.
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