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Klondike Fever (1980)

This movie chronicles Jack London's epic journey from San Francisco to the Klondike gold fields in 1898.



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Complete credited cast:
Jeff East ...
Belinda McNair
Sam Steele
John Thornton
Swiftwater Bill
Merritt Sloper
Diamond Tooth Gertie
Will Ryan
Sharon Lewis ...
John Curtis ...
Ed Burns
Bill Mankuma ...
Joe Austin ...
The Drunk
Buck ...
The Dog


This movie chronicles Jack London's epic journey from San Francisco to the Klondike gold fields in 1898.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 January 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jack London's Klondike Fever  »

Box Office


CAD 4,000,000 (estimated)

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Film debut of Vanity. See more »

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User Reviews

Cartoonishly bad
7 October 2016 | by (Hope B.C. Canada) – See all my reviews

I wish it were otherwise. I'm Canadian and I love the source material, the gold rush days of the turn of the 19th to 20th century, the characters of the time, and the setting. I had high hopes for this film and it started out wonderfully, what with the paddle wheeler filled with eager miners landing at a well portrayed Skagway. I forgave the movie makers for inserting the dognapped Buck from one of London's stories, but the manner in which the dog was introduced set the stage for the movie's failing: simplistic one dimensional characters of unlikely and unlikeable makeup and a nonsensical plot. Jack London is a sullen, petulant and uncooperative member of his little partnership, with his more well grounded partner always trying and failing to make his impetuous protégé see reason and to get on with the trips purpose. The card sharp, whom London outplays for $500 ($25,000 in today's money!) is at first suitably sullen and angry and yet next thing you know and for the rest of the movie, he's a happy go lucky friendly fellow adventurer!

The bad guys are baby kicking bad (well, dog kicking), with no apparent other purpose or goal than to be bad guys. Soapy Smith is presented as just evil and venal, hardly historically accurate nor fair, and I almost laughed when Soapy's right hand man in malfeasance, the dog handler, was introduced and he is made up to look just like Popeye's nemesis, Brutus! Yup, I get it, that's the bad guy.

The movie loses its momentum shortly after the characters set off for the gold fields. I found myself thinking, 'OK, come on, what's happening? Let's go.' I noticed my wife had started playing on her cell phone. The movie's pace had stalled and in increasing measure the followers needed to employ suspension of disbelief.

Somehow, up the Chilkoot Pass. a trail that we have seen can barely be negotiated on foot, a stage coach appears (!) with three dance hall 'ladies' accompanied by the now cheery gambler. Should I mention the remarkably unlikely part that follows, where all travelers in their various groups are stopped at a waterway and while we have been made to understand that there is a great hurry on all parts to get to the gold fields, they all take the time to build boats entirely from the surrounding standing timber? Or the remarkable scene where the women are stranded on shore and call out for rescue to London and his partner in their passing boat? They say the gambler has taken off down river on foot to look for help, as their boat was stolen! (if he can hike down river then why on earth was it necessary for all those travelers to build boats?) Once the Jack London boat has negotiated the swift water with the women on board, that the gambler had evidently skirted on foot, there he appears and somehow he has the boat again!

In fact a great deal of the movie Klondike Fever requires suspension of disbelief, and while this is not an unusual requirement in movie watching circles, too much of it detracts from the experience and the production starts to appear cartoonish. I suppose that with Brutus as a bad guy, that was to be expected.

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