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July 09, 2012


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Jaime N. Christley

EMPEROR was the first film that came to mind for me, while the Official Film of Remembrance is, of course, MARTY. Which remembrance prompted a certain windbag on Twitter to say, "Mmmmwell y'know, *Steiger* played Marty fiiiiirst. Coincidentally, since you bring up Borgnine as a movie mogul in another Aldrich film, I recently watched Steiger play a despotic, infantile movie producer in yet another Aldrich film, THE BIG KNIFE. Given the precedent, I suppose I should say "Mmmmwell y'know *Steiger* did it fiiiirst." Well, to put it diplomatically, Steiger did a lot of things, but he was no Ernest Borgnine.

Jonathan H.

EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (or EMPEROR OF THE / MY NORTH POLE) is also a prime example of the long-vanished PG film of the early MPAA ratings days...non-R-rated films made for and by adults. The DVD, with a good Dana Polan commentary, is one of the better deep catalog titles / bargains.

This Borgnine, seen in films like EMPEROR OF THE NORTH or BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK or JOHNNY GUITAR or FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, is one I fondly remember alongside the Borgnine of MARTY or PAY OR DIE, or the old man in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and AIRWOLF.

Terry McCarty

Having recently seen THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE, I thought perhaps Robert Aldrich shaped Borgnine to play a roman a clef version of Columbia studio head Harry Cohn, who fired Aldrich from the 1957 film THE GARMENT JUNGLE.


As I remember it, when I saw THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH on DVD, the box said THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE and the actual title in the credits lopped off the "POLE." Or vice versa. Either way, I remain confused. But Borgnine was great. I do think it's funny, the way Borgnine is remembered as playing cuddly grampa types, or cuddly sadsack types, exclusively. He could be quite the roaring terror when asked. It's like he was never in THE WILD BUNCH at all, grinning at the thought of killing people and then dying.

Anyway. That Mickey Spillane, he sure could write. (Not Borgnine's line, but still, my dad loved quoting it.)

Jonathan H.

There is an "easter egg" on the EMPEROR DVD...a trailer with the original EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE title treatment. The disc art and movie proper are under the title: EMPEROR OF THE NORTH. I need to check the disc again, but I feel like the ...NORTH POLE trailer may have included the title song, as it was originally performed by Bill Medley. The final version was sung by Marty Robbins.


THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH is the better title anyway.

Jonathan H.

Agreed, Bill.


"You could probably write a whole book on Robert Aldrich's use of Borgnine alone."

I'll take "Vera Cruz" for $200, Alex.

Lawrence Fechtenberger

"THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH is the better title anyway."

Perhaps, but the phrase actually used IN the film is "Emperor of the North Pole."

Peter Nellhaus

I always thought that the mogul in "Lylah Clare" was modeled after both Cohn and Darryl Zanuck, the latter because of the inclusion of the mogul's son. I saw "The Devil's Rain" again somewhat recently, and thought Borgnine was more effectively Satanic looking with his rolled up cowboy hat, that when he had the horns added later. And gee, doesn't anyone else recall that Steiger and Borgnine were costars in "Jubal"?


Also recently deceased, and also born in 1917, Isuzu Yamada: actress from an early age (Mizoguchi's 'Osaka Elegy' and 'Sisters of the Gion', both 1936), and worked with Ozu ('Tokyo Twilight', 1957) and Kurosawa ('Yojimbo', 1961) as well.

Jaime N. Christley

@Peter - I've seen the film, but I don't recall that! Was it he, not Borgnine, who hated the title character for being a dirty, no-good sheep herder? I seem to have conflated Borgnine with Steiger's bad guy...

Doesn't it begin with Glenn Ford falling off a mountain? As good a way to start a picture as any other!


DVR Alert: TCM is going to have a Borgnine marathon on July 26th, including The Legend Of Lylah Clare, which I've never seen.


That Fuzzy Bastard

Ah, Christ he's terrifying in EMPEROR! I'm young enough that my first exposure to Borgnine was Jeff Krulick's ON THE BUS doc, so I found it weird that Alan Moore mentioned modeling The Comedian after "young Ernest Borgnine". Then I actually saw his movies and it all made sense. Actors are, in no small part, their bodies, and Borgnine's thick, implacable figure could be a powerful weapon.

David Ehrenstein

"The Legend of Lylah Clare" began its life as a TV drama. It was written by Robert Thom,directed by Sydney Pollack and starred

(wait for it)

Tuesday Weld

Tom Block

>Doesn't it begin with Glenn Ford falling off a mountain? As good a way to start a picture as any other!

Why can't I ever find the "Like" button in this fucking place?

Owain Wilson

My parents came over this evening. I made us all one of my pasta specials, and then we sat down to watch Marty - which, incidentally, is the name of my seven week old baby boy!


Glad to see so much love here for EMPEROR, a tremendous film containing what I think is Ernie's best performance. I was lucky enough to see it at an early screening, when it still had the Bill Medley rendition; never understood why they felt the need to replace it. BTW, the full title is hobo slang; Emperor of the North Pole means you're emperor of...nothing (since the North Pole is basically a frozen wasteland).

And somebody needs to mention McHALE'S NAVY, so I guess it's up to me: McHALE'S NAVY!

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