When his father dies, rodeo star Dan Bennett returns to his ranch but hires on as a ranch hand. A horse known as the White Outlaw is the leader of a herd of wild horses and Dan's obsession ...
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When his father dies, rodeo star Dan Bennett returns to his ranch but hires on as a ranch hand. A horse known as the White Outlaw is the leader of a herd of wild horses and Dan's obsession now is to capture and tame that horse. Foreman Christine Johnson learns of his true identity and that he plans to sell the ranch after taming the horse. Her objective now becomes to keep him from selling and she starts by releasing the White Outlaw he has just captured. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
This is the high river country of the great Northwest - unspoiled by man, a region of cool, crystal lakes and towering, snow-capped mountains, where rimrock ledges climb up toward the timberline. Wild horse herds range these lovely hills, a strong and onery breed that has for the most part never been broken to the will of man. They take refuge in the hidden valleys and lost canyons where the footprint of man is seldom seen. In winter, only the strongest can survive and when the ...
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Filmed in Alberta, "Northwest Stampede" has the full-color glory of the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop, and the gorgeous Joan Leslie in an unprecedented (for 1948) number of nice close-ups. Despite a below average story, the visual elements of the film make it worth viewing.
The story concerns a rodeo star named Dan Bennett (James Craig), who inherits his father's ranch but does not want to be tied down and distracted from his efforts on the rodeo circuit. The female ranch foreman Christine Johnson (Joan Leslie) wants him to continue his father's dream of building up the ranch. Dan is only hanging around the ranch because a horse he once owned has turned wild and he wants to capture and tame it. Much of the film is simply an excuse to exhibit footage shot at the 1947 Calgary Stampede, into which they cut close shots of Craig and Leslie whose characters are entered into the various competitions.
Jack Oakie and a remarkably thin Chill Wills play supporting parts and provide most of the comic relief. The Wills character is named "Mileaway" James because when there is work to do he is always a mile away. There is some comedy in the Dan-Christine dynamic; a bit like the Rock Hudson - Paula Prentiss stuff in "Man's Favorite Sport".
Dan and Christine eventually fall in love. Like the wild stallion, Dan cannot be forcibly domesticated but when the horse voluntary enters the corral to be with a mare you know that Dan likewise will choose to stay on the ranch with Christine.
Christine Johnson (called Chris) is a pivotal character in film history and "Northwest Stampede" is a significant film for this reason. She not only runs the ranch efficiently, she rides, ropes, and breaks horses as well as any of the men. She comes within an equipment malfunction of beating Dan for the total points prize at the rodeo. Yet she maintains her feminine identity. Dan learns to respect her professionally long before falling in love with her.
This character could only have appeared in a post World War Two Hollywood movie. The extensive mobilization required to win the war had let the genie out of the bottle of women's occupational choices. Women had served in the military, become military and civilian pilots, and replaced men in most factory jobs. When the men returned home they reclaimed most of their jobs but the myth of a woman's inability to work productively outside the home had been exploded. "Northwest Stampede" put a very positive spin on these developments, showing that a modern couple with mutual respect could have as good (maybe even better) romantic relationship than had been possible in the pre-war years.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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