Emperor Of The North

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Brent Avery, May 27, 2006.

  1. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    Interesting Depression era film and it seemed to be tailor made for Lee Marvin.He did a great job with the character and Ernst Borgnine was equally at home as the sadistic conductor with a real dislike for anyone trying to ride the train free. Just chocked full of off the wall individuals. This appears to be another solid effort by Fox with a very good transfer - the only annoying "problem" was one part of the film where there was a definite "echo" effect when they were talking which lasted around 15 minutes - I imagine those parts may have been recorded in the studio after the fact since it was filmed mostly outdoors. Kind of odd. Otherwise a colorful movie with some lively characters. I've waited a long time for its arrival.

    The 1:85 AR looks very clean with solid colors and a pretty good stereo sound track. Well worth a look and a pleasure for any steam buff - lots of action involving the engines used. I do thank Fox for taking the time to release some of these until now hard to find titles. Touching on extras - there is a feature commentary by film historian Dana Polan and some TV spots and a Theatrical Trailer.
     
  2. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    wow. I didnt know this was (coming) out;
    I rented the Japanese LD years ago and loved the film.
     
  3. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I did not know that there were extras! Wow. Polan can be a bit hit-or-miss, though; his track on Bad Day at Black Rock is pretty boring, but the Advise and Consent track is excellent.

    Is the sound mono or stereo or both?

    Cheers, Brent!
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I guess different strokes for different folks because I loved his commentary on the Bad Day at Black Rock dvd. The release date for this dvd is June 6th. I always loved this film, mainly because of seeing Borgnine and Marvin together again.




    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    Gordon - The audio is listed as both Stereo and Mono so I can't honestly say how they originally recorded it. It could be another fake stereo option. The trailer is in pretty good shape and runs 3 min. 37 sec.
     
  6. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I just found that Polan didn't go into the production of the film in any great detail. He gives his own reading of it and I didn't find it particularly interesting. He missed one of the great details: Sturges shot all but 12 of the film's 455 set-ups in one take and moved the camera if take-1 didn't work all over the span of 20 days (22 set-ups per day). This goes a long way to explaining the film's immense dynamism.

    Maybe I am being a bit harsh on Polan. It's probably one of those cases where one has seen a particular film many times and has read about it, so hearing the theories of another that aren't as illuminating to one as they would be to someone else is experienced as 'boring', whereas it is actually informative. That's how his Advise & Consent track played out, as I hadn't seen the film before acquiring the DVD and I am only now getting into Preminger.

    Polan is a great admirer of Aldrich, so his thoughts on this later-period film should be very interesting and I'm glad that Fox has provided us with it.
     
  7. eric tengren

    eric tengren Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't wait to get this in the post june 6th. this and ULZANA'S RAID are two of aldrich's best. A number one.
     
  8. seanOhara

    seanOhara Supporting Actor

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    Polan didn't do Advise and Consent -- that was Drew Caspar, who is by far my least favorite commentator (he makes me feel like I'm sitting in the world's most boring film class).
     
  9. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    You're right, Sean - it was Drew Caspar. I don't like his commentaries, either, but on Advise and Consent, he's more tolerable and his insight is good. Which other films has Dana Polan commented on?
     
  10. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    I thought Dana Polan's commentary on Emperor of the North was quite insightful, doing a good job of putting the film in its context and offering some very interesting readings on the film with relation to the time that it was produced. There is certainly some repetition in his thoughts, but overall I found that his points confirmed many of my own feelings about the film and the era. If you are looking for a commentary chock full of production tidbits, this probably won't satisfy you, however I find that this kind of commentary can ultimately be a lot more rewarding.
     
  11. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Oh, it's a good commentary and I wasn't even expecting one for this film - Compulsion however, goes without one and that's a film that is perhaps more deserving of illumination for the average viewer. I have just always wanted to know why Aldrich made Emperor, why Peckinpah didn't get the job, although if he had directed it, he would probably not have directed Pat Garrett. It's one of those immensely thrilling and visceral films, crammed with incredibly dangerous set-pieces that one longs to know how they did it and what the participants thought of it all and in that regard, participation, ie. an interview or commentary by Borgnine and/or Keith Carradine would have been very interesting. I myself much prefer that type of input for DVD extras, as I generally am bored by critics and scholars' analyses/readings of films, which is mainly because I can do that myself and my own reading of Emperor satisfies me more than any other I have read. But Polan mades some interesting observations.

    A great companion piece to this film is Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell's 1997 documentary, Riding the Rails, which is available on DVD. The best, perhaps only worthwhile, visual document on this subject. At 60 minutes, one wishes it were longer, but its a moving and fascinating film.
     
  12. Dan McW

    Dan McW Second Unit

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    On my humble TV/DVD equipment, Emperor of the North looked flawless. Kudos to Fox for a beautiful presentation of this film.

    By the way, has anyone taken a closer look at that special features menu...?
     
  13. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Well spotted, Dan! Yes, push left to highlight Shack's hammer and press enter.
     
  14. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the tip on the easter egg, Dan & Gordon!

    On the regular trailer, the narrator's voice sounds to me like it could actually be Lee Marvin. It's not unheard of for actors to perform double duty in this sort of way...anyone else hear what I'm hearing or am I offbase?
     
  15. R-T-C Tim

    R-T-C Tim Stunt Coordinator

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    Bump... clank....

    Well, I finally got around to watching my copy of this film - I saw on television years back and it shot straight into my top 5. Fortunately it retains this power on a second viewing and I enjoyed every minute of it, especially the ultra-gritty climactic fight. Most impressive I thought was the complete lack of rear projection work - the actors were really there on top of the trains running around. So many films are ruined by terrible rear-projection that destroys any suspension of disbelief that you might have (cf. the early Bond films).

    I've given it the full review treatment: Emperor of the North
     

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