NORTHWEST TRAIL (1945)

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Northwest Trail Cover Now if you look far-far into the distance. Right past that donkey. Right past that piano. And right past that monkey riding a donkey playing the piano. You might be able to make out the following 66 minute movie made in 1945. It was Directed by: Derwin Abrahams; and Starred: Bob Steele, Joan Woodbury, with John Litel.


Northwest Trail


THE STORY:
Now I'm afraid to say that I have some rather bad news for you, Mister Owens (John Hamilton). You see, a day or so ago while I was escorting your niece Kate (Joan Woodbury) through the wilds of our native Canada, suddenly, from out of the shadows a dastardly bandit appeared, and managed to steel the twenty thousand dollars she was couriering on your behalf.

What's more, now we're both here in your rather rustic village -- safe and sound and relatively footloose and fancy free -- my Captain from back home has sent word that he doesn't want me to investigate your crime. Oh no. He wants me to investigate another crime somewhere else.

Well, just between the two of us, of course, but this second crime involves two circus performers who keep on getting shot at whenever they try to figure out why their dam is being blocked.

Yes, Mister Owens! I know that your crime should take precedence over this one. Yet what else can I do? Orders are order, and unlike every other mountie in the Canadian force, it looks like this time I won't be able to get my man. Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all falls asleep when Kate looks over at me and says, 'Oh come now, Matt O'Brien (Bob Steele). I'm sure there's some way for you to tackle both crimes at once?'. As there's a mutiny on the bounty - you can't trust anyone in this county - can someone please say 'howty' - and at the end of the day, hands up anyone who wants to kiss a mountie?




THE REVIEW:
Now with all due respect I'd say 'Northwest Trail' was a very vanilla film. Essentially it was one of those adventures where a stoic Canadian mountie is sent to a village to solve one crime, and in so doing has to also solve another crime which is loosely connected to the first crime. Furthermore, most of the acting on offer was rather stiff for my own particular tastes, and this was complemented by a couple of fairly slow paced action scenes as well.

Northwest Trail Vintage 1945 Film Poster
Ouch! Am I being a tad too harsh here, dear reader? Cause I want to be more pleasant about this film. Honestly I do. Yet to be completely sincere about it, all in all there were only two aspects about this flick that I actually enjoyed.

For a start I did warm up to the incremental romance between the two main leads -- as played by Bob Steele and Joan Woodbury. From my point of view I did like how their fledgling relationship appeared to blossom over time, without it feeling too forced or too staged upon the screen.

Where as the second aspect of this movie I thoroughly adored were those scenes that involved the two circus performers -- especially the one played by Poodles Hanneford. Well? Let's face it. What would you rather see? A couple of two-dimensional characters running around for no particular reason? Or would you prefer the sight of a pretty young girl standing on top of a galloping horse? Or what about the vision of a rather pug faced old gent bull whipping a bottle of rum into his hand from ten feet away?

Now I know what option I would choose. And I'm pretty sure you would too. So it's on that particular note that I now have to explain why I thought this film was very vanilla in its execution.


Northwest Trail Vintage 1945 Vintage Film Poster


You see, in no uncertain terms this was the type of story-line which could have been better presented if had some more gusto and pizzas behind it. If the story-line was more pronounced and dynamic in tone, and if the characters showed more character, I'm nigh on positive that everything would have been a lot better than it ultimately was.

But what did we get instead? A tried and tested premise about a bunch of tried and tested characters that didn't seem to live, feel, or exhume their respective roles. OK. I'm sure this had a lot to do with the constrains of this film being made in the 1940's. Having said that though, I've seen many other movies made during this era and they were an awful lot more plucky and innovative than this film plus many other more modern day productions.

Bob Steele
Anyway. I best stop myself there methinks. Cause if I keep on going around in circles any longer I'll just be repeating myself. So I tell you what. Let us now sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic-facts. (1) 'Action Pictures' first released this production on the exact same day Bette Davis married William Grant Sherry. It was on the 30th of November, 1945. (2) The majority of this movie was shot on location at Hemet Dam, located within the Californian city of Idyllwild. (3) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Path of Terror' in Brazil; 'The Hero of the Canadian Police' in Denmark; and 'Red Coat Knight' in Finland. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'A thrilling drama of the Northwest photographed in gorgeous color'. (5) That native New Yorker who directed this movie, Derwin Abrahams, has also directed such television shows as 'The Cisco Kid', 'Mackenzie's Raiders', 'The Adventures of Falcon' and 'Harbor Command'. (6) This was Madge Bellamy's final screen performance. Afterwards she retired from show business altogether due to a previous murder charge. (7) The screenplay for this flick was written by Harvey Gates, and he's best known for being a prolific scientist. Yep. No kidding. (8) After this film grabbed its socks, Bob Steele starred in the adventure, 'Six Gun Man'; Joan Woodbury starred in the comedy, 'Blue Skies'; and John Litel starred in the drama, 'The Enchanted Forest'.


Sexy Joan Woodbury


Overall I'd say 'Northwest Trail' was a pretty mediocre movie. Even though some of it was rather pleasant to watch, some other parts of it could easily put you to sleep.

Oh! And that reminds me. Night-night! Nuff said.

THE RATING: C