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Northwest Passage (1940)

'Northwest Passage' (Book I -- Rogers' Rangers) (original title)
Langdon Towne and Hunk Marriner join Major Rogers' Rangers as they wipe out an Indian village. They set out for Fort Wentworth, but when they arrive they find no soldiers and none of the supplies they expected.

Directors:

, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Elizabeth Browne
...
'Cap' Huff
Louis Hector ...
Reverend Browne
...
Humphrey Towne
...
Lord Amherst
Donald MacBride ...
Sergeant McNott
...
Jennie Coit
...
Lieutenant Avery
...
Lieutenant Crofton
...
Jesse Beacham
...
Webster
...
Wiseman Clagett
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Storyline

Based on the Kenneth Roberts novel of the same name, this film tells the story of two friends who join Rogers' Rangers, as the legendary elite force engages the enemy during the French and Indian War. The film focuses on their famous raid at Fort St. Francis and their marches before and after the battle. Written by Dale Roloff

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

MIGHTY DRAMA OF THE SAVAGE FRONTIER! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 February 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Northwest Passage  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,677,762 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A young Greer Garson was originally the first choice of MGM to play the alluring character of Elizabeth Towne. A scheduling conflict resulted in the character being recast and velvet-voiced Ruth Hussey being given the role. See more »

Goofs

During the attack on St. Francis, some of the bayonets on the Ranger's rifles can be seen wobbling, indicating they are made of rubber. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Title Card: This is a story of our early America... of the century of conflict with the French and Indians... when necessity made simple men, unknown to history, into giants in daring and endurance. It begins in Portsmouth New Hampshire, in 1759...
See more »

Connections

Remade as Mission of Danger (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes
(1780?) (uncredited)
Music by R. Melish
Lyrics by Ben Jonson (in poem To Celia) (1616)
Sung a cappella by Spencer Tracy, Robert Young and Walter Brennan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Frequently ripped-off historical plot seen here first.
9 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Two months before his death in 1957, Kenneth Roberts received a special Pulitzer Prize for his historical novels. Of them, Northwest Passage was his most famous. It consisted of two distinct parts, and was the second best selling American book of 1937 (after first having been serialized in the Saturday Evening Post).

MGM's 1940 movie is based on the first, and in my opinion, better part of the book. It recounts Major Robert Rogers' 1759 raid on St. Francis, an Abenaki village, during the French and Indian War. As Rogers, Spencer Tracy gives a powerhouse performance, King Vidor delivers the directorial goods, and the storyline, itself, is very exciting. Indeed, I remember Northwest Passage fondly from my childhood, and consider it a classic. However, because of today's values, it probably appeals more to conservatives than liberals.

In 1945, Warner Brothers' Objective, Burma! (starring Errol Flynn) used the same plot without attribution--a Japanese transmission station replacing the Indian village. (Directed by Raoul Walsh, it too is very well done.) Then, in 1951's Distant Drums (starring Gary Cooper), director Walsh again used the same plot without attribution. This time the movie (which is not so well done) occurs during The Seminole Indian Wars (1835–1842), and the initial objective is an old Spanish fort, lying deep within the Everglades.

In conclusion, I'm not shocked that Hollywood recycled Roberts' plot without attribution. (You only have to remember Dorothy Parker's quip "The only 'ism' Hollywood believes in is plagiarism.") I am, however, somewhat shocked that Roberts did not sue. (His reputation was that of an acerbic curmudgeon.) But, then again, maybe he just didn't know.


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