When Robert Aldrich directed his unforgettable film, Emperor of the North (1973), featuring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Keith Carradine, changes were made to the original screenplay by award-winning Christopher Knopf. The film still managed to please audiences and has remained a revered favorite among many. Even the theme ballad, “A Man and a Train”, written by Frank De Vol with lyrics by Hal David and sung by Marty Robbins, reached #40 on the Billboard chart. Despite the vigor of Hollywood hoopla, Knopf always longed to reset the ruthless railroad tale on the right tracks.
Now, nearly half a century later, Knopf finally reveals the true story in a riveting new novel that restores the crucial elements that film audiences have never experienced.
In 1933, during the Great Depression, Shack, a cruel train conductor wages a personal war to keep anyone from riding his train for free. When A No. 1, an experienced, train-hopping hobo, and Cigaret, his green companion, dare to invade the sanctity of Shack’s train, a battle of wills erupts with a pounding intensity rivaled only by the throbbing power of the steel behemoth beneath their feet. A climactic fight with heavy chains, planks of wood, and an axe used as makeshift weapons pits the three desperate men against each other. Will one of the hobos manage to ride Shack’s train all the way to Portland and earn the title “Emperor of the North,” or will Shack ultimately prevail?
Christopher Knopf graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1950. Hired out of school by MGM Studios, he launched a producing and writing career in motion pictures and television that lasted fifty years and earned him an Edgar Alan Poe nomination, two Emmy Nominations, a Humanitas Prize nomination, two Writers Guild of America Award-winning scripts as well as five further nominations, two Writers Guild of America Service Awards, a People’s Choice Award, and an NACCP Award. His autobiography, Will The Real Me Please Stand Up, and two novels, Remains To Be Seen and Chill Factor, were published exclusively by BearManor Media.