7.1/10
2,659
43 user 15 critic

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 »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When American newspaperman and adventurer Henry M. Stanley comes back from the western Indian wars, his editor James Gordon Bennett sends him to Africa to find Dr. David Livingstone, the ... See full summary »

Directors: Henry King, Otto Brower
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Nancy Kelly, Richard Greene
Boom Town (1940)
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two buddies who rise from fly-by-night wildcatters to oil tycoons over a twenty year period both love the same woman.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert
Boys Town (1938)
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Against all odds Father Flanagan starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee ... See full summary »

Director: Norman Taurog
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Henry Hull
The Westerner (1940)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Judge Roy Bean, a self-appointed hanging judge in Vinegarroon, Texas, befriends saddle tramp Cole Harden, who opposes Bean's policy against homesteaders.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Doris Davenport
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1885, a Texas Ranger travels to Canada to arrest a trapper who's wanted for murder and who's stirring up the Natives in a rebellion against the Canadian government.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Gary Cooper, Madeleine Carroll, Paulette Goddard
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An American tanker is sunk by a German U-boat and the survivors spend eleven days at sea on a raft. They're next assigned to the liberty ship "Sea Witch" bound for Murmansk through the sub-stalked North Atlantic.

Directors: Lloyd Bacon, Byron Haskin, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Raymond Massey, Alan Hale
Certificate: Passed Adventure | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A dozen British soldiers, lost in a Mesopotamian desert during world war I, are menaced by unseen Arab enemies.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Victor McLaglen, Boris Karloff, Wallace Ford
Tulsa (1949)
Certificate: Passed Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

It's Tulsa, Oklahoma at the start of the oil boom and Cherokee Lansing's rancher father is killed in a fight with the Tanner Oil Company. Cherokee plans revenge by bringing in her own wells... See full summary »

Director: Stuart Heisler
Stars: Susan Hayward, Robert Preston, Pedro Armendáriz
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

When a town boss confiscates homesteader's supplies after gold is discovered nearby, a tough cowboy risks his life to try and get it to them.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: James Stewart, Rock Hudson, Arthur Kennedy
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The dramatized life of immortal humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, from his days as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River until his death in 1910 shortly after Halley's Comet returned.

Director: Irving Rapper
Stars: Fredric March, Alexis Smith, Donald Crisp
Boomerang! (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The true story of a prosecutor's fight to prove the innocence of a man accused of a notorious murder.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Dana Andrews, Jane Wyatt, Lee J. Cobb
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Although loudmouthed braggart Jerry Plunkett alienates his comrades and officers, Father Duffy, the regimental chaplain, has faith that he'll prove himself in the end.

Director: William Keighley
Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, George Brent
Edit

Cast

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

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:

The Big Picture that was made in our own Pacific Northwest See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
Edit

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The part of "Langdon Towne" was originally offered to Robert Taylor, who refused it. It was then given to Robert Young. See more »

Goofs

In the speech that Rogers gives to his men to explain where they are going, near the beginning of the film; he is holding a staff that is above his head by almost two feet. When the scene changes to a close up the staff is now held differently and is well below the height of his shoulders. 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

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Spencer Tracy (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

America, My Country Tis of Thee
(1832) (uncredited)
Music by Lowell Mason, based on the Music by Henry Carey from "God Save the King" (1744)
In the score during the opening credits
Reprised in the score near the end
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Rugged Film About Some Rugged Men
25 September 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Kenneth Roberts was a distinguished novelist who wrote many fine fictional works about colonial and revolutionary America. Probably his biggest seller was Northwest Passage a fictionalization of the exploits of Roger's Rangers during the French and Indian War.

His books sold well at the time and we have to remember that in viewing Northwest Passage we are seeing a fictional story rather than the real story of Roger's Rangers. At that we are only seeing part of that book, nothing at all about a search for a land route across North America.

The historical significance of the Rangers is that Robert Rogers had an idea that one should be living and thinking like the American Indian in order to fight him. His ideas about specialized units who could meet the enemy on his own terms in colonial America have been followed right down to the Green Berets in Vietnam. His is a distinguished contribution in military history.

To do that and lead such a group you have to be one charismatic leader. And in Spencer Tracy, Rogers has the best kind of interpreter.

This was Tracy's first color feature for MGM and Louis B. Mayer spared no expense for this film. No back lot backwoods here, the company went on location to the Payette River in Idaho for the outdoor scenes depicting colonial era New York State. No stunt doubles here either, that's Tracy, Walter Brennan, Robert Young and the rest of the company waist deep in those rapids forming that human chain. Some of the stars nearly drowned making this film.

One aspect of this film is rarely discussed and that was the politics surrounding the Indians. Please note that while Tracy is burning the Abinagi village, he has some friendly Mohawks with him. When the British and French went to war in this theater of the Seven Years War, the various Indian tribes chose up sides, trying to figure which group of whites would give them the better deal. The Mohawks are part of the Iroquois Confederation and they aligned themselves with Great Britain. Various other tribes allied with with French. Both were supplied with the white man's weapons of war and both fought on each side. And neither got a really great deal in the end.

Northwest Passage is definitely not for the politically correct of the day. Tracy is leading a savage reprisal against the Abinagi, he burns the town, kills all the males of fighting age, steals their meager food supplies to feed his men who are hungry themselves. Tracy makes it clear this is reprisal for raids against the British colonists. Prominently displayed for the camera just before the shooting start is that large exhibit of settler's scalps in the village.

Of course the real story is the retreat back, fleeing a much larger force of French in the area. The men are starving as they reach the rendezvous point which is an abandoned fort. Tracy races ahead of the men who've been promised a feast when they get there and as he makes it there he realizes the supplies haven't come. He starts to break down, but as he hears his men behind him, he regains control of himself and starts issuing the orders necessary for their survival. It's all done in a few minutes without dialog and its own of Spencer Tracy's greatest film moments.

Northwest Passage will not find too much favor with a lot of today's audience. But taken for what it is worth, it is a story about brave men and their struggle for survival in the colonial wilderness.


24 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?