July 1, 2008
I’ve been looking forward to this one. I figured it’d be a break from the string of westerns. I figured it’d be pretty different, being about the mounties and all. I figured wrong.
The film starts with the customary Sons of the Pioneers song “Tumbling Tumbleweed” over some familiar looking credits. It’s pretty much standard fare for Charley’s western at this point (1939), and has all the same people too (Iris Meredith, Bob Nolan, Dick Curtis…)
But, as the French say, it’s in the differences. For one thing, Dick Curtis plays a rare sympathetic role as the front man for a bunch of bad guys who’ve been ripping off the miners at the company store. Dick wants out, so they kill him and frame the hot-headed miner Larry Daniels (Stanley Brown in the first of fifteen roles with Charley).
Another difference is an explicit romance for Charley. Sergeant Neal Crawford meets Iris and there are fireworks. His mounties make him blush. They sing a sad song by the campfire and Neal looks at the stars and thinks of her. They even get married in the end.
Being a member of the military is a good role for Charley. It helps explain his natural stiffness and his singlemindedness (actually, playing a Canadian explains a lot of that too.) He’s singularly dedicated to justice in this, “can’t you understand! Anything I do must be done according to the law!”
At the end, Charley has one of his “plans” which works even though it seems like it wouldn’t (or didn’t.)
Oh Canada! This film has everything but a moose. There’s lots of lakes, burly guys with beards and funny ways of saying “about”, a villain named La Rue with a French accent, and even a canoe chase!
In the end, Charley fires his gun in the air and shouts. “Surrender in the name of the King!”
The film was shot at Big Bear, and Lake Arrowhead, California.