6.2/10
10
2 user 1 critic

The Great White Trail (1917)

| Drama | June 1917 (USA)
A husband, mistakenly believing his wife has cheated on him and that he is now the father of their newborn son, throws both her and her child out of the house. Frantic to the point of ... See full summary »

Directors:

Leopold Wharton (as Leopold D. Wharton), Theodore Wharton

Writers:

Gardner Hunting, Leopold Wharton (as Leopold D. Wharton)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Doris Kenyon ... Prudence Carrington
Paul Gordon Paul Gordon ... George Carrington
Thomas Holding ... Rev. Arthur Dean
Hans Roberts Hans Roberts ... Charles Ware
Louise Hotaling Louise Hotaling ... Marie
F.W. Stewart F.W. Stewart ... The Vulture (as Richard Stewart)
Edgar L. Davenport Edgar L. Davenport ... Donald Ware (as Edgar Davenport)
Dick Bennard Dick Bennard ... Grocery Boy
Bessie Wharton Bessie Wharton ... Marie's Guardian
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
William F. Cooper William F. Cooper ... Undetermined
Peggy Snow Peggy Snow ... Undetermined
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Storyline

A husband, mistakenly believing his wife has cheated on him and that he is now the father of their newborn son, throws both her and her child out of the house. Frantic to the point of madness, she abandons her baby, and when she gains her sanity she flees to Alaska to start a new life. However, her husband finds out and follows her there. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Taglines:

AN EPIC OF THE ARTIC

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

June 1917 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tragedy of the Snows See more »

Filming Locations:

Enfield, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Wharton See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

The curious case of the unintentionally (?) funny film
13 July 2018 | by kekseksaSee all my reviews

Cinema is a complex thing and woe betide anyone who believes that one can somehow apply one single scale of values to all films. There are, for instance bad (sometimes very bad) good films (only a complete fool would consider L'Année dernière à Marienbad JUST a bad film) ang there is clearly a very long list of good (sometimes very good) bad films (how does one rationalize with any credibility one's enjoyment - and all these films have a substantial corpus of fans - of the Universal Invisible Man series or the superb 1940s Sherlock Holmes films or of the Mr. Moto films or the films of Shammi Kapoor or the films of Norman Wisdom or Hammer horror or the films of Louis Funès or the Rajni Kanth epics?), Then there is another even more extraordinary category - the film that is unintentionally hilarious. At least one imagines it is uniutentional but who knows and who in any case is doing the intending? A classic example is Louis Gasnier's now cult film Reefer Madness. But this film by the Whartons comes into the same category. It is pointless to describe the plot but it is so jam-packed with melodrama, nonsense and coincidence, not a cliché unturned, each element succeeding the other with such lightning speed that, even if one was inclined to emote over such twaddle, one would never have the time to do so. And the result is really very funny - at times laugh out loud funny - from beginning to end. And it makes for a most enjoyable film.

I do not know quite why it is that this is unintended, whereas with the great serial of Feuillade one knows that the effects are intended - is it because the film is anomalous in a US realist tradition? - but it is difficult not to feel here that is not so much laughing with the film as laughing at it (rather as one laughs at the Japanese film that became Woody Allen's Tokyo Rose). But what does it matter. From the moment one has paid one's seat in the cinema, so to speak, it is the film-makers who are doing the laughing.

It is almost equally difficult to analyse what is so marvellous about the Feuillade serials (Fantômas, The Vampires, Judex) but what is certain is that none of the contemporary serials anywhere in the world that attempted to emulate his achievement came anywhere near to doing so, that the only modern version that approaches them is Farju's 1960 Judex which is straightforward hommage and that and that they remain to this day a unique achievement. But in its own way The Great White Trail is the US serial that comes interest, its complete ludicrousness somehow allowing it to get as close as was possible, within the ever-tightening straitjacket of US (formal) "realism", to Feuillade's avant l'heure surrealism. And it is possible to understand something about the Feuillade serils themselves from it - the lack of emotional identification, typical also of Feuillade's films and consequent distancing of the action gives an enormous freedom to th film-maker - he can, for instance, here as in the Feuillade serials, introduce new subplots and new characters at any point in the film and they immediately establish themselves (within the context of the ambient absurdity. It is true ghere for instance of the Vulture, who appears very late in the film and even of the Vulture's mother who appears even later, or of the brief subplot about the dying man who's daughter is in moral peril at the dance-hall (saved by the muscular priest). This freedom is something Feuillade makes use of in his serials with consummate skill, but, while the same cannot really be said with any truthfulness of the Whartons, there is nonetheless a sense in which this film, intentionally or not, belongs in the same lineage.

Do I recommend the film? Most certainly I do, It really is a lot of fun to watch.

The best scene - the moment when the dog strolls up and discovers the basket containing the baby that has just been abandoned by the temporarily insane mother under the old tree stump in the forest and trundles off with it to the vicar and his mum is hard to beat! And the little baby-shoes, the little baby-shoes, what perverse genius thought up that idea?


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