Great cast main asset in outdoor saga from Monogram
1944's "Alaska" was made by Poverty Row's Monogram, boasting a superior cast that helps prop up this outdoor saga filmed entirely in studio interiors (one short sequence was shot in the High Sierras). Based on Jack London's "Flush of Gold," and set in 1898 Moose River, Alaska, where the law is insufficient to protect Gary Corbett (Kent Taylor) and his father's gold mine from trigger happy claim jumpers led by saloon owner Thomas Leroux (Nils Asther), whose main asset is beautiful singer Roxie Reagan (Margaret Lindsay). Roxie and Corbett hit it off immediately, despite her drunkard husband John (John Carradine), who regales the townspeople with Shakespearean soliloquies, and is secretly kept liquored by the corrupt Leroux. Shooting two of his father's murderers in self defense, Corbett is arrested by Marshal John Masters (Dean Jagger), who decides to take his prisoner to face a judge in Juneau, if he can survive several more attempts on his life in Moose River. The potentially exciting script is severely weighed down by several intrusive musical numbers, including two apiece from Margaret Lindsay and Iris Adrian (who otherwise gets about three lines of dialogue). Also including a brief appearance by Glenn Strange, like John Carradine soon to join the Universal monster rally "House of Frankenstein," while listed last in the cast of 13 is a German shepherd billed only as "Klondike" (referred to only as 'Dike'), but he hardly does anything in the film. Most disappointing of all is Carradine's small role (just 5 scenes), third billed but virtually thrown away, although it was clearly somewhat autobiographical. In later years, both Carradine and Kent Taylor, represented by the same agent, would find themselves sharing the screen in low budget exploitation junk from grade Z director Al Adamson. This was already the fourth time that Carradine had appeared with Dean Jagger; 1940's "Brigham Young," 1941's "Western Union," 1943's "No Escape," 1949's "C-Man," 1958's "The Proud Rebel," and lastly, the memorable 1972 episode of KUNG FU, "The Dark Angel," which introduced John's recurring role as blind preacher Serenity Johnson, and featured the only appearance of Kwai Chang Caine's bigoted grandfather, Henry Raphael Caine, well played by Jagger.
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