Canada 1931: The unsociable trapper Johnson lives for himself in the ice-cold mountains near the Yukon river. During a visit in the town he witnesses a dog-fight. He interrupts the game and buys one of the dogs - almost dead already - for $200 against the owner's will. When the owner Hasel complains to Mountie Sergeant Millen, he refuses to take action. But then the loathing breeder and his friends accuse Johnson of murder. So Millen, although sympathetic, has to try to take him under arrest - but Johnson defends his freedom in every way possible. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Here is a story set in Canada about Canadians and yet it was made by the US. I have to ponder why Canada didn't jump on doing this story themselves. If one wonders why Canadian movies are so lame (about failure, disease, depression, weird humor) I would say it is because culturally we have an aversion to examining ourselves in a critical fashion whereas other countries do it quite naturally. England has made films about notorious murders, same with Australia, or Germany (Tenderness of the Wolves), and of course, the US. This story would have been perfect material for a domestic movie--but I can find no evidence that Canada ever sought to make this story themselves. I can understand with the stars involved that they dramatized it and changed the facts, but if it were done with no stars, and kept to the historical story, it still would have been fascinating. But the government film funding bodies don't like stories that present Canada in a negative light. At least in the English side-I know Quebec has covered stories on its history in fictional fashion. I remember the furor over a Canadian murder case when a Canadian producer wanted to make a film about it and was harshly condemned, so the US made it-and Canadian crew people vowed not to work on it. This is seriously screwed up thinking. If Canada wants to develop a normal film industry it needs to be less reserved and more self-examining.... On the film itself, I agree with the sentiments that you wouldn't see this film made today-and if you did, it would star model-types. Character actors have really gone extinct. Some of the melodramatic touches in the film worked for me (the dog, the trapper Bill), others fell flat(the inserted love story). Still, Bronson was effective (you could totally believe he was a rugged mountain man) and Marvin had some good lines (I am sure Canadian government culture ministers would have axed his comment calling the trappers "savages" if it was made in country).
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