THE WILD NORTH has been lost in the blizzard of movies that have blown in since it came out in 1952, when it was a decent-sized hit. It’s a neat little mission of manly rectitude that Adventure fans should check out.
Grazed off the real-life 1904 survival saga of Canadian Mountie Arthur Pedley, it’s well directed by action expert Andrew Marton, following up on his success with King Solomon’s Mines. The likable star of that classic, Stewart Granger, plays a happy-go-lucky French-Canadian trapper, accused of murder after an accident with a client. The dogged Pedley (Wendell Corey) is tasked with bringing him in, but the trapper just wants to get back to his Chippewa girlfriend (Cyd Charisse).
Evasion, capture and possible redemption load up the dog sled the two determined and cross-purposed men mush across mountains in winter,through avalanche, animal trap and outlaws. Tables are turned and suspicion becomes trust. Granger and Corey work well off each other, and it’s a showcase visually, with Idaho and Wyoming locations doubling for Alberta. Studio shots blend with cameraman Robert L. Surtees’ capture of Sun Valley, the Clearwater River and Galena Pass in Idaho and Jenny Lake in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Color is great.
Standouts are two excellent action scenes. First is a camp-fire lit attack by a band of wolves on the men and their sled dogs—it’s a pretty wild melee that must have been dicey to shoot given all the big canines piling over the stuntmen and quite obviously fighting with each other: it’s like an episode out of those old True Adventure mags with the wonderfully gaudy covers. The other is a mad race down rapids in a canoe—whoever the stunt doubles and/or pros were who did this sequence have to be applauded for their combination of nerve and nuttiness as this is some definite white water rampaging.
The $1,282,000 expended returned $4,007,000, giving Granger a kickstart to a flush year of derring do with Scaramouche and The Prisoner Of Zenda. With Morgan Fairley, J.M. Kerrigan, Howard Petrie, John War Eagle and Ray Teal. 97 minutes.