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Boyd Emerson loves the wealthy Mildred Wayland, but so does Boyd's unscrupulous rival in the Yukon salmon fisheries, Frederick Marsh. The two battle for Mildred's hand and for control of the thriving fishing business.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
This film, originally made by RKO but fallen into the public domain, is probably not going to appeal to most people, and not even to most fans of precode. However, it is still interesting viewing. It was made in 1930 - that first full year of all-talking pictures, and we are beginning to see the end of some silent acting careers and the beginning of some talking ones.
The story is that of Boyd Emerson (Joel McCrea), a man who wanders into a very unfriendly Alaskan town. He practically breaks down the door of the town lady of the evening, Cherry Malotte (Evelyn Brent), and demands hospitality, which kind of spoils the idea behind hospitality in the first place. Boyd is in love with a society girl, Mildred Wayland (Jean Arthur), but needs to prove himself worthy to her dad before they can marry. He decides to make his home in this small Alaskan outpost and set up a salmon fishery to compete against that of his underhanded and better capitalized rival for Mildred's hand, Frederick Marsh.
Everyone from "San Francisco to Sitka" apparently knows about Cherry's profession, everyone but Boyd. Cherry uses her bodily assets at one point to insure Boyd gets the loan he needs to start his fishery, without Boyd knowing of course. When he finds out what Cherry does and that she did it at least once to help him, fireworks ensue.
Evelyn Brent was a holdover from the silents, and this is the best talking role I've seen her in. She delivers her hooker's manifesto speech to anemic society girl Mildred with gusto that rivals Barbara Stanwyck in "Baby Face". Jean Arthur is stiff as a board and unrecognizable here as the star of the screwball comedies that are to follow, and it is ironic that in spite of that stiff performance and Brent's animated one that Arthur's star is to rise and Brent's is to fall very shortly.
Louis Wolheim is another holdover from the silents. They just don't know what to do with him here and so they basically make him a mindless brute that enjoys busting heads open. He is much better served in 1931's "Danger Lights", and so is Jean Arthur for that matter.
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