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Northwest Trail

USA 1945
produced by
William B. David, Max King for Action Pictures/Lippert Pictures
directed by Derwin Abrahams
starring Bob Steele, Joan Woodbury, John Litel, Raymond Hatton, Madge Bellamy, Ian Keith, George Meeker, Charles Middleton, John Hamilton, Poodles Hanneford, Gracie Hanneford, Johnny Carpenter, Bud Osborne, Al Ferguson, Bill Hammond, Bob Duncan
screenplay by William Beaudine, L.J. Swabacher, based on a story by James Oliver Curwood, music by Frank Sanucci

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Mountie O'Brien (Bob Steele) is entrusted with the task of accompanying (Joan Woodbury) to some farout village in the mountains to visit her uncle Owens (John Hamilton) - a task he would rather not take because he and she clash over almost everything -, and at the same time investigating a dried out well, a villager being shot at and the suspicious absence of returns from the local Mountie sergeant Means (John Litel). The task is made all the more difficult when a large amount of money is stolen from Kate, money she neglected to tell O'Brien about, but he is blamed for it all the same.

Soon enough, O'Brien comes to the conclusion that Sergeant Means is rather useless and uninterested in the local goings-on and thus he takes investigations into his own hands, helped only by Poodles (Poodles Hanneford) - the one with the dried out well who has been shot at - and Kate, who eventually comes to see his side of things ... and soon he uncovers a gold-smuggling racket, operated by a few locals (Charles Middleton with a phony French accent, George Meeker) helped by Sergeant Means, who turns out to be an impostor. But the head of the whole operation is actually Kate's uncle Owens herself ...

Only by using a trick, O'Brien can round up and arrest the whole gang, and even though he has just arrested her uncle, he gets the girl - Kate - in the end ...

 

Above all, Northwest Trail - one of two CineColor Westerns Bob Steele made in the mid-1940's ( the other is Wildfire) - proves one thing: Colour isn't everything. In fact, for the most part, Northwest Trail is a rather dull affair, the action is mediocre at best, the direction is uninventive and the story is overconvoluted. Only Bob Steele and Joan Woodbury as the bickering couple who eventually fall in love add some comic sparks to the otherwise boring goings-on ... but that#s not nearly enough to carry the film.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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