Jack London's "The Sea Wolf" is transported from sea to land in this intriguing western. The ruthless boss of a mining camp meets his match when fugitives from justice cross his path.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Bob Peters
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Boss Kruger
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Judith Burns
Robert Douglas ...
Aubrey Milburn
Morgan Farley ...
The Judge
Walter Coy ...
Benson
George Stern ...
Tippy
Robert Griffin ...
Kirby
Frank Marlowe ...
Brandy
Tony Martinez ...
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Jack London's "The Sea Wolf" is transported from sea to land in this intriguing western. The ruthless boss of a mining camp meets his match when fugitives from justice cross his path.

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20 July 1951 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Barricada  »

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(RCA Sound System)

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1.37 : 1
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"The Sea Wolf" Runs Aground
9 January 2012 | by (nashville, tn) – See all my reviews

This is in fact an unusual Western for its time, or for that matter, any other. I have to give the makers high marks for original thinking and a certain audacity for transplanting the 1941 film version of Jack London's famous story from its original salty environs to the bleak Southwestern desert, in this often scene-for-scene remake.

Instead of a seal-hunting ship crewed by the scum of the sea, this time the action takes place at a mine worked by outcasts and fugitives from the law, kept in line by the brutal discipline of the owner, thoroughly detestable "Boss" Kruger (Raymond Massey) and his henchmen. All the characters from the 1941 movie are here, with minor changes, even down to the disgraced and alcoholic judge who fills the same role as the ship's doctor in the previous film.

There are some worthwhile things about this version, including the Technicolor desert scenery and performances which range from at least adequate to quite good. But any viewer who's familiar with 1941's "The Sea Wolf" will find themselves making unfavorable comparisons. The director, while certainly competent, is no Michael Curtiz, and Dane Clark and Raymond Massey -- although fine actors in their own right -- just aren't a John Garfield and Edward G. Robinson. Clark lacks Garfield's raw presence,and Massey never displayed the kind of edge Robinson could bring to a dramatic role.

However, Ruth Roman is a fairly passable substitute for Ida Lupino. Robert Douglas ("The Fountainhead", "King Richard and the Crusaders", "The Prisoner of Zenda") gets a rare break from his typical personification of a slimy, aristocratic villain when he recreates Alexander Knox's character from the 1941 film, but the script never allows him to develop the more complex and nuanced relationship with Kruger that his counterpart had with "Wolf" Larsen.

Which I think gets to the heart of what went wrong here: Despite its 77-minute running time, "Barricade" is nonetheless rather slow-paced and talky for a Western. But compared to "The Sea Wolf" -- which clocked in at 90 minutes, not a one of them wasted -- the characters aren't given enough time to become fully fleshed-out. Particularly Kruger, who as a petty Lucifer ruling his own private Hell should have a certain shabby and yet tragic magnificence to counterpoint his ruthless thuggery.

I still recommend "Barricade" as worth a viewing, even if this abbreviated remake doesn't quite measure up to the original.


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