It's the unofficial start of summer, gang, so put your brain pan on ice and get ready to chill out by visiting the wonderful French-Canadian Western set in The Frozen North
(1952-Andrew Marton). Above: Wendell Corey, looking pole-axed, with his prey, Stewart Granger and his homemaker-honey, Cyd Charisse.
One of my favorite Wendell Corey
and Stewart Granger
movies is on tap today on TCM at 4:30 PM ET. Okay, so it doesn't match Corey's performances as the subliminally gay gunsel attending to John Hodiak's every need and tossing dagger eyes toward Lizabeth Scott in Desert Fury
(1947) or as Barbara Stanwyck's patsy boytoy in The File on Thelma Jordon
(1950). Still, I would park this one next to The Killer Is Loose
(1956) for Wendell's ability to convey a kind of odd creepiness uniquely his own. He even has a chance to use that thousand yard stare in this one to good effect--that is...after an attack by some ravening wolves!!...No, I'm not making that up. Above: Stewart Granger, proving his mettle on location for the film The Wild North (1952). Granger
, who was apparently hellbent on making people forget that he could wear a lace-cuffed shirt and wield a sword with elan while squiring Margaret Lockwood, Patricia Roc or Deborah Kerr, adopts one of the most amusing Pepe Le Pew accents I have ever heard in this movie when he plays "Jules Vincent," un homme dans la nature, complete with plaid shirts, a hair-trigger temper, and a tender spot for both stray kittens and half-Chippewa chanteuses such as a pig-tailed Cyd Charisse
. The beauteous dancer uses her steely physical grace to play an almost unrecognizable part in a straight role as an Indian maiden who falls in with the high-principled, independent Vincent. Perhaps it is indicative of the period or the movie's stripped-down to the essentials approach to a story, but Cyd doesn't have a name. She is only referred to as Indian Girl as far as I can tell after repeated viewings of this movie. Above: Cyd Charisse in her trading post finery in her role as Indian Girl in The Wild North.
Stopping by in an outpost offering some quasi-civilization for a moment in between trapping trips, Granger finds himself in a pickle after committing justifiable homicide on a truculent malcontent among the citizenry. Cyd and Stew take off for an idyllic cabin (at least it becomes so after Cyd whips up curtains and some good chow). Wendell, as RCMP Constable Pedley follows--as do plenty of action sequences. These scenes are enhanced by location shooting in Idaho, some good matte paintings (and some fake-looking ones), and that excellently staged scene in the wilderness as the pack closes in--thanks in large part to director Andrew Marton
(Crack in the World,Gentle Annie, King Solomon's Mines
). The concluding scenes shooting the rapids are just great too.
This movie is also available on DVD if you miss this all too rare screening on TCM.Psst! Only 1 Week until the premiere of Claudelle Inglish (1961) on TCM!