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At the end of World War I, Zeb Kennedy, a canner, and Thor Storm, a fishing boat captain, set up a fish cannery in Alaska and through the years find themselves on opposite sides of Alaska's bid for statehood. Zeb is determined to let nothing and no one stop him from building his business and gaining great wealth. At first Zeb and Thor's girlfriend, Birdie, are only good friends. But even though Zeb and Birdie fall in love, Zeb remains devoted to his greater love: money. Zeb goes off to Seattle to find money for his business. There he marries Dorothy, the heir to his former employer. When Dorothy and Thor find out that Zeb and Birdie are secret lovers, Thor attacks Zeb, knocking him out. His friendship with Zeb ended, Thor heads off into the Alaskan wilderness, where he is rescued by an Eskimo family. There, Thor begins to work for Alaskan statehood, while Zeb works to advance himself through his business. Written by
Another cinematic weakness of mine has been the filming of Edna Ferber's stories. Here work adapts so well to the cinema I think it's impossible to make a bad movie of her work.
Ice Palace is always given short shrift when it is viewed in comparison to Showboat, Cimarron, and most importantly Giant. Actually it is Giant that Ice Palace seems to have the most in common with. Two men grow wealthier during the history of the area's growth and are changed by their love for the same woman. Carolyn Jones had quite an effect on the two men panting after her, the same as Elizabeth Taylor did to Rock Hudson and James Dean.
I viewed Ice Palace again after seeing it many years ago and it is as good as I remembered it the first time. Two fine portrayals of rival empire builders are given by Richard Burton and Robert Ryan. You can feel the hatred they have for each other come crackling right out of the TV screen as on the big screen. Carolyn Jones as she ages from comely young Scotch lassie to matronly spinster because she won't commit to either man, makes you forget her as Morticia Adams.
If Ice Palace has a weakness it's in the direction. I think if George Stevens had done this one it would have been a cinema classic like Giant is. Still Ice Palace is a fine film that is often overlooked in retrospectives of either Richard Burton or Robert Ryan.
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