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Matt Garraway, an unscrupulous salmon fisher tries to hatch a scheme in
Sitka to fish past season using a loophole for Native Americans. He
gathers a group of accomplices, including two Native Americans and sets
to work. His plan faces some grudging opposition from his brother with
a conscience and his oblivious fiancée, who comes up from Seattle to
take care of him after he's injured. In short, there's more than one
reason to find this guy to be a total scuzzbag and you don't feel bad
when some problems begin with his operation and his personal life.
The plot is fairly standard for the decade, even with the exotic Alaskan setting. And boy do they make use of the setting: there's so much filler about the salmon industry and the salmon life-cycle, you half wonder if some real salmon cannery hadn't sponsored the movie. Unfortunately, another typical aspect from the era is racist jokes at the expense of Native American people, and this movie has its share. At least they're counterbalanced with the interesting character of Jane, the "half-breed", played by a fairly young Lorna Gray. She's full of conviction and has that spark of fire that makes her worth watching, and she performs the two most singularly interesting acts in the movie. It's because of her that I've given this movie an extra point above a pleasantly forgettable 6/10.
Spoilers Of The North concerns brothers Paul Kelly and James Millican,
one who runs a cannery and the other rustles fish like they rustle
cattle in Texas. Fish pirates have about the same social standing in
Alaska as cattle rustlers in Texas.
Kelly has a chance to make a real killing but only if he can deliver a specified amount of salmon and he's accepted an advance payment. It occurred to me during the film that if Kelly just gave the money back all his problems would be solved. At least the financial ones, he's got some romantic complications.
They come in the form of two women, Evelyn Ankers the girl from Seattle he plans to marry and Lorna Gray a half Indian woman whom he just likes to get his rocks off with. Marriage to a mixed blood, not in his family though from what I see, he's no prize.
He and Gray go into the fish piracy business once the fishing season has closed. But let's say that Kelly's love life gets in the way of his illegal fishing and it ends bad.
Gray is some sexy woman and definitely not one to trifle with. Roy Barcroft usually Republic Pictures official western villain makes one of his few non-western appearances in a film we could call a northern. Some of the scenes of the salmon fishing and Indian life up there were quite nice. Stock footage I'm sure, no indication Republic went to Alaska for location shooting.
Spoilers Of The North bears comparison to that other film from the frozen north from Paramount that was done a few years earlier, Spawn Of The North. Watch them side by side and you can see the difference in films with a bigger budget and major studio touches about the same subject.
Not too bad a film from a B picture studio and that Lorna Gray is something else in those tight dresses.
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