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Hudson's Bay (1941)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 223 users  
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Highly fictionalized early history of Canada. Trapper/explorer Radisson imagines an empire around Hudson's Bay. He befriends the Indians, fights the French, and convinces King Charles II to sponsor an expedition of conquest.

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Title: Hudson's Bay (1941)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Pierre Esprit Radisson
...
Barbara Hall
Laird Cregar ...
John Sutton ...
Lord Edward Crewe
Virginia Field ...
...
...
Morton Lowry ...
Gerald Hall
Robert Greig ...
Sir Robert
Chief Thundercloud ...
Frederick Worlock ...
English Governor
Florence Bates ...
Duchess (scenes deleted)
Montagu Love ...
Governor D'Argenson
...
Mayor
...
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Storyline

Highly fictionalized early history of Canada. Trapper/explorer Radisson imagines an empire around Hudson's Bay. He befriends the Indians, fights the French, and convinces King Charles II to sponsor an expedition of conquest.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Adventure | History

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 January 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hudson's Bay Company  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in Book Revue (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

 
HUDSON'S BAY (Irving Pichel, 1941) ***
13 May 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Fox continued their run of pioneering biopics (that is to say, depicting the life stories of notable historical figures as opposed to the films themselves being particularly groundbreaking!) by recruiting the actor who had been most renowned for this type of fare, i.e. Paul Muni, albeit at another studio (Warners). In fact, Fox had earlier made LLOYD'S OF London (1936), SUEZ (1938), STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE (1939) and THE STORY OF Alexander GRAHAM BELL (1939) in this vein, whereas Muni had starred in THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR (1936), THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA (1937) and JUAREZ (1939). Though HUDSON'S BAY more or less maintained the standard of both parallel cycles, it proved to be Muni's last such vehicle.

Anyway, this revolves around French fur-trapper Pierre Esprit Radisson's opening-up of Canada (at the time mostly populated by Red Indians and referred to as "New France") to do business with Europe and his dream of giving an identity to the still-untamed country. Muni (who actually looks quite a bit like director Pichel, himself an imposing character actor with a somewhat sinister countenance and a distinctive deep voice to match!) was once considered the greatest thespian of his generation, but his hammy acting style – rendered even more ludicrous by a variety of 'funny' accents – has dated badly in hindsight. Mind you, he is still a compelling screen presence and, in this case, he comes across as something of a man of action (whereas he had usually been restricted to presiding over laboratory flasks, books – of both literature and law – and the political arena in defence of the oppressed)!

Typically, the production values and supporting cast are impressive: the latter includes Laird Cregar as Muni's equally uncouth sidekick; Gene Tierney (wasted in a smallish part – despite being second-billed – as the obligatory romantic interest of John Sutton, yet another of the protagonist's companions!); Vincent Price as the British King Charles II (to whom Radisson turns – thanks to banished subject Sutton's influence – when his request of an official Canadian expedition to the rightful French ruler falls on deaf ears and, having ventured forth solo, his prized pelts were subsequently appropriated by the State and himself thrown into prison!); and Nigel Bruce as an aristocrat (who, persuaded as to the benefits that could be reaped by England from the establishment of a Hudson Bay trading-post, vouches for Muni with His Majesty).

Radisson emerges here a man who is able to elicit confidence from the savage people he deals with but, more importantly, he respects them in return – even making it a point to get to know them (so that he can then react accordingly to their unpredictable nature). For one thing, he notices the Redskins cannot withstand alcohol, and that its intake yields unbridled violence – when such an episode occurs, he does the right thing and condemns the man responsible to death by firing squad (even if, being Tierney's layabout brother, he is the prospective in-law of Muni's own pal Sutton!). This form of instant justice is not appreciated by Price (by the way, the King's infamous mistress Nell Gwynn, also puts in an appearance here: for the record, I recently acquired but have yet to watch her own 1934 biopic with Anna Neagle and Cedric Hardwicke as her sovereign lover) on their return, but eventually both he and Tierney resign themselves to the fact that Radisson acted in the best interest of all concerned.


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