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Saturday, July 3, 2010

North To Alaska (1960)

Directed by veteran Henry Hathaway, this rollicking western adventure is unusual in the John Wayne canon in that, despite its western setting, it’s essentially a romance. After striking it rich in the Alaskan wild with a gold mine, Wayne leaves his partner (Stewart Granger) and the partner’s brother (Fabian, who‘s pretty bad) to guard the mine while he goes off to Seattle to fetch Granger’s fiancée. When he finds her, he finds her married to someone else. While drunk at a brothel, he decides to bring one of the girls (Capucine) back to Granger as a substitute. While some aspects are tiresome like the big clichéd barroom brawl, Wayne and the breathtaking Capucine actually make for an interesting couple. The handsome mountainous California locations (subbing for Alaska) are beautifully photographed in CinemaScope by Oscar winner Leon Shamroy (LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN). With Ernie Kovacs as the film’s villain, Mickey Shaughnessy, Karl Swenson and Kathleen Freeman.

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