7.1/10
3,050
49 user 15 critic

Northwest Passage (1940)

'Northwest Passage' (Book I -- Rogers' Rangers) (original title)
Trailer
2:00 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

Langdon Towne and Hunk Marriner join Major Rogers' Rangers as they wipe out an Indian village. They set out for Fort Wentworth, but when they arrive they find no soldiers and none of the supplies they expected.

Directors:

King Vidor, Jack Conway (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

Laurence Stallings (screenplay), Talbot Jennings (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

The Westerner (1940)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Judge Roy Bean, a self-appointed hanging judge in Vinegarroon, Texas, befriends saddle tramp Cole Harden, who opposes Bean's policy against homesteaders.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Doris Davenport
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A lad with a penchant for trouble is sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Indiana. Though he's not happy about the arrangement at first, his love of horses and his affection for a young ... See full summary »

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Walter Brennan, Jeanne Crain, Charlotte Greenwood
Certificate: Passed Action | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Four outlaws come to New Jerusalem, a town full of courteous and religious people, to rob the bank. After shooting the president of the bank, only three make it out of town followed by the ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Boleslawski
Stars: Chester Morris, Lewis Stone, Walter Brennan
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After a career criminal is recaptured and knows he faces the guillotine, he offers to exchange his life for 100 hostages slated for execution by the Nazis.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Paul Lukas, Lucile Watson
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An old man and a young boy who live in the southeastern Mississippi swamps are brought together by the love of a dog.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Walter Brennan, Phil Harris, Brandon De Wilde
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An ambitious lumberjack abandons his saloon girl lover so that he can marry into wealth, but years later becomes infatuated with the woman's daughter.

Directors: Howard Hawks, William Wyler, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, Frances Farmer
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A German-born engineer, his American wife and their children travel from Mexico to the United States to visit her family but their plans are complicated by a Romanian count.

Directors: Herman Shumlin, Hal Mohr
Stars: Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When American newspaperman and adventurer Henry M. Stanley comes back from the western Indian wars, his editor James Gordon Bennett sends him to Africa to find Dr. David Livingstone, the ... See full summary »

Directors: Henry King, Otto Brower
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Nancy Kelly, Richard Greene
The Sea Hawk (1940)
Action | Adventure | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Humble Abraham Lincoln gains the respect of his Illinois neighbors, growing in stature and respect until he is elected President in 1860 and departs for Washington.

Director: John Cromwell
Stars: Raymond Massey, Gene Lockhart, Ruth Gordon
Crime | Mystery | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An agitated and desperate man spares no expense in insisting that Mason represent him against a neighbor's howling dog and act as executor of his will.

Director: Alan Crosland
Stars: Warren William, Mary Astor, Allen Jenkins
Billy the Kid (1941)
Biography | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

In 1880 New Mexico, during a feud between cattle growers, former childhood friends Billy the Kid and Jim Sherwood end-up working for opposite sides.

Directors: David Miller, Frank Borzage
Stars: Robert Taylor, Brian Donlevy, Ian Hunter
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Tracy ... Major Richard Rogers
Robert Young ... Langdon Towne
Walter Brennan ... 'Hunk' Marriner
Ruth Hussey ... Elizabeth Browne
Nat Pendleton ... 'Cap' Huff
Louis Hector Louis Hector ... Reverend Browne
Robert Barrat ... Humphrey Towne
Lumsden Hare ... Lord Amherst
Donald MacBride ... Sergeant McNott
Isabel Jewell ... Jennie Coit
Douglas Walton ... Lieutenant Avery
Addison Richards ... Lieutenant Crofton
Hugh Sothern ... Jesse Beacham
Regis Toomey ... Webster
Montagu Love ... Wiseman Clagett
Edit

Storyline

Based on the Kenneth Roberts novel of the same name, this film tells the story of two friends who join Rogers' Rangers, as the legendary elite force engages the enemy during the French and Indian War. The film focuses on their famous raid at Fort St. Francis and their marches before and after the battle. Written by Dale Roloff

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Big Picture that was made in our own Pacific Northwest See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 February 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Northwest Passage See more »

Filming Locations:

Cascade Mountains, Oregon, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$2,677,762 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

A young Greer Garson was originally the first choice of MGM to play the alluring character of Elizabeth Towne. A scheduling conflict resulted in the character being recast and velvet-voiced Ruth Hussey being given the role. See more »

Goofs

The OP stated that Moses did not fast for 40 days, actually Elijah, Moses and Jesus all fasted for 40 days. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Title Card: This is a story of our early America... of the century of conflict with the French and Indians... when necessity made simple men, unknown to history, into giants in daring and endurance. It begins in Portsmouth New Hampshire, in 1759...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Challenge the Wilderness (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

The British Grenadiers
(uncredited)
Traditional 17th century March
Sung a cappella by Andrew Pena
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Well, it's well photographed, but .....
20 November 2007 | by dpingr1See all my reviews

Northwest Passage is one of the few films about the Seven Years' War that isn't based on a James Fenimore Cooper novel, and in that sense, it's a welcome lesson in how that important period has come to be mythologized in popular culture. I've never read the Roberts books, so I can't comment on how faithful the film is to its source material. I can only make a few comments on how movies have their own sensibilities and cultural rules. Like most films, this one tells us more about the era in which it was made than the time period in which the film's events take place. It's certainly an exciting story, but it has a number of cringeworthy elements (and they would have elicited just as many cringes back in the 1930s, I assure you.)Here's a few comments:

Jeffrey Amherst and Sir William Johnson: As anyone who has read any of the fine studies of this era can attest (I recommend the works of James Axtell, Gregory Evans Dowd, Daniel Usner, Daniel Richter, Richard White, and many others as fine introductions to Indian-White relations in the 17th and 18th centuries), this film takes a rather interesting view of these historical figures. Amherst is here depicted as the realistic good guy, who is in tune with Rogers's vicious sentiments. Johnson, on the other hand, is seen as part of the problem because of his private relationships with several Indian groups, especially the Mohawks. Johnson's Mohawk allies are here shown as lazy, duplicitous, suspicious interlopers. In fact, Johnson and his many Indian allies throughout Iroquoia and the Ohio country were indispensable to the British victory in the Seven Years' War, while Amherst, a capable officer but a virulent anti-native racist, instituted policies that helped start the 1763-64 Indian uprising ("Pontiac's War") and actually approved using germ warfare on Indians near Fort Pitt (he approved a plan to give them smallpox-infected blankets.)

Uniforms: If you squint, Roger's Rangers look like they should be in the Confederate Army. This may be a Technicolor issue. In fact, Roger's men often dressed as Indians and other backcountry residents did. It is the demands of movie convention that put them all in blue buckskin uniforms -- just as Japanese and German soldiers always wore particular shapes of helmets, so you can tell them apart from the other guys. Even the Mohawk and Abenaki Indians wear similar "uniforms," i.e. matching loincloths. The Indians in this movie look like they belong in the Southwest or the plains -- not in the Eastern Woodlands, especially late in the year.

Rogers himself: Well, his anti-Indian rants probably do illustrate something of the man himself. It should be noted that Rogers's sensationalized exploits made him a problematic celebrity during his life. He was always distrusted by his British superiors, who nevertheless bowed to public acclaim and gave him important positions after the war, including a brief command of Fort Detroit, and his disastrous tenure commanding Fort Michilimackinac after the Indian uprising. Like many outpost commanders, Rogers let his personal greed take over in the relative freedom of the pays d'en haut, and ended up being arrested and returned to Niagara in irons. Amherst gave him guarded trust, but Amherst's successor, Thomas Gage, and Indian Supervisor William Johnson, considered him a villain. As for the native Americans, everyone knew about Rogers's Indian killing, and he had few Indian friends and many enemies. Everywhere Rogers went became a tense place of interaction between Indians and Europeans.

Indian issues: Well, it's true that Indians, Abenakis and others, used brutal tactics in war. But this movie, like other movies such as Drums Along the Mohawk, definitely take the settlers' side in their confrontations with native Americans. In one scene, Rogers tells his men how the Abenakis should be killed for brutally hatcheting innocent settlers, who were just trying to make lives for themselves and weren't bothering anyone. It should be noted that settlers were often a great bother to Indians, just by their presence alone. Indians who lived in transitional regions resented the encroachments of white settlers more than anything else, including the presence of forts and soldiers. Settlers used land for farming, which was an exclusive operation. Unlike the skin trade, which used native residents as partners, farmers viewed Indians as being in the way. All Eastern Indians knew that farming was the one operation that turned Indian country into European territory exclusively, and did everything they could to oppose it. And as far as relative levels of brutality go, backcountry settlers and soldiers were capable of all the worst kinds of viciousness. Reference the Gnadenhutten Massacre during the Revolutionary War if you want to read about some really vicious behavior by America militiamen.

This movie is a great mirror on its time. Americans looked to their settler past, mythical or otherwise, whenever they wished to differentiate their national identity from the "bad old" Europeans, or the brutal state of nature. The rugged, idealistic frontier settler, hacking a life out of the wilderness but imbued with democratic virtue, was a popular model for Depression-riddled Americans who felt that their agency and power was slipping away. People today might like these movies for the same reasons!

As for me, I think the film is well-acted and filmed, and somewhat exciting, but too laughable to take very seriously. That is, it's laughable when it is not deplorable. This is the most virulent anti-Indian movie I know, worse even than most westerns. Some of the comments here label this as a "family" film. The hero of this film repeatedly labels all Indians as brutes, thieves, and cowards. I wouldn't let any child see this movie.


21 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 49 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed