"Listen...for a man, or a mole, or a bird - every day is life and death."
1952 was a good year for Stewart Granger. Riding high at the peak of his career, the British star made four films that year: the early heist film The Light Touch, with Pier Angeli and George Sanders; the wonderful swashbuckler Scaramouche (with its deservedly-famous, 7-minute long climactic fencing duel); the color remake of The Prisoner of Zenda (against baddie James Mason) and, last but certainly not least, the rugged outdoor adventure pic, The Wild North.
The Wild North is essentially a western (technically, a northwestern), its action taking place in the remote regions of Canada (never stated, but likely somewhere in the Yukon). Granger stars as Jules Vincent, a French-Canadian trapper with a lust for life and devil-may-care philosophy. Vincent arrives in a tiny settlement with furs to sell and the intention of engaging in some drunken carousing. Instead he ends up adopting a couple of strays - a kitten with more backbone than size, and a beautiful Indian woman (played by stunning dancer Cyd Charisse), who's eking out an existence singing and being pawed at by drunken frontiersmen in a saloon.
Jules brings the cat into the bar with him, and soon is chatting up the sad-eyed crooner. "Does it have a name?" she asks about the kitten. "Does it have to? Do you?" Jules replies. "Do I have to?" she answers back. "No."
Before he knows it, Jules finds himself making a promise to bring the woman back to her people (she's part Chippewa), on the way up to his winter cabin in the north, but not before cheerfully trouncing an inebriated bear of a man named Brody (Howard Petrie) who presumes to lay hands on her. Sure enough, the next morning, the Indian maiden (who never does get named in the film) is waiting for Jules at his canoe. He doesn't remember his drunken promise, but he agrees to take her with him anyway (he's not stupid). A contrite Brody wants to accompany them and vows to be a useful hand with a paddle. Jules reluctantly takes him up on his offer. But it seems Brody has revenge on his mind when he forcibly steers their canoe into deadly rapids. When Brody refuses to turn the canoe towards the shore and safety, Jules is forced to kill him. He leaves the girl with her tribe, with a promise from the chief (John War Eagle) to take her under his protection. He then heads north, wanting to put some distance between himself and the police, who he doesn't trust to take him at his word about the killing being justified.
Opinionated ramblings about new and old movies (mostly old, as that's the way I like 'em!)
Blogs of Note
Stuart Galbraith IV's World Cinema Paradise
Movie Morlocks (TCM's Classic Movie Blog)
50 Westerns from the 50s
Riding the High Country
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Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
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Kevin's Movie Corner
Films From Beyond the Time Barrier
Carole & Co.
Rupert Pupkin Speaks
Vienna's Classic Hollywood
The Lady Eve's Reel Life
ClassicBecky's Brain Food
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