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Sam and George strike gold in Alaska. George sends Sam to Seattle to bring George's fiancée back to Alaska. Sam finds she is already married, and returns instead with Angel. Sam, after trying to get George and Angel together, finally romances Angel, who, in the meantime, is busy fighting off the advances of George's younger brother, Billy. Frankie is a con man trying to steal the partner's gold claim. Written by
"North To Alaska" is a rollicking action filled comedy western from Director Henry Hathaway and a departure by star John Wayne from his usual westerns.
Sam McCord (Wayne), George Pratt (Stewart Granger) and Billy Pratt (Fabian) are partners in a rich Alaskan gold mine in 1900. They have just struck it rich and go to the local saloon to celebrate. There, a raucous saloon brawl breaks out, played more for its comedy aspects than for real. Now that he has struck it rich, George can finally send for his long suffering fiancé Jenny who lives in Seattle. Before he leaves he meets scheming gambler Frankie Cannon (Ernie Kovacs) with whom he will tangle at a later date.
Since Sam has to go to Seattle to buy new mining machinery anyway, George charges him with the task of fetching Jenny back to him. In Seattle, Sam finds that Jenny has, much to her regret, since married. Sam goes to a local brothel called "The Hen House" where he happens to meet Angel (Capucine) who is French like Jenny. Sam decides to substitute Angel for Jenny and asks her to accompany him to Alaska. Angel as luck would have it, falls in love with Sam.
Before leaving for Alaska, Sam goes to a logger's picnic at the request of his old friends Lars and Lena Nordqvist (Karl Swenson and Kathleen Freeman). There he protects Angel's honor to the point that she believes he is taking her back to Alaska as his girl.
Back in Alaska, Sam brings her to his camp to find that George is away fighting claim jumpers at another camp. Sam leaves Angel in the "care" of George's young brother Billy who tries to woo her for himself with comedic results.
When George and Sam return, George is presented with Angel as a replacement for his beloved Jenny. Reluctant at first, he becomes attracted to her until he realizes that she is in love with Sam. The two then plot to make Sam jealous and well you know.
Meanwhile Cannon has cross-filed on Sam and George's claim under the name of town drunk Boggs (Mickey Shaughnessy), and then the fun begins.
Director Hathaway keeps the story moving and entertaining. Wayne proves to be quite adept at light comedy in his role. Fabian surprises as the horny kid brother in perhaps the best role of his movie career. Granger, long an action star in his own right, is equal to the task as George. Ernie Kovacs who was an innovative TV comedian at this time, is wasted as the the slimy chief villain. He hardly has a chance to display his comedic talents. Capucine is lovely and captivating as Angel. Her scenes with Fabian are hilarious.
There is plenty of action from the opening saloon brawl to the logger's picnic to the fight with the claim jumpers to the final street fight. And who can ever forget the great Johnny Horton's singing of the title song over the opening credits.
One of Wayne's most entertaining pictures.
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