Saturday, February 10, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Riders of the Northwest Mounted (1943)

NOTE: This post is my contribution to the fourth O Canada Blogathon hosted by Kristina of Speakeasy and Ruth of Silver Screenings from February 9-11, 2018. This blogathon is always fun and informative! Please click on the blogathon link and enjoy the many interesting posts on a wide variety of Canadian-related movie subjects, written by a significant number of classic film bloggers.

Each year my contribution to the O Canada Blogathon has been written about a Western, and three of the four films have been "Mountie" movies. There's just something about those men in red uniforms in the beautiful "wild north" of our continent...even if they're actually filmed in the U.S.!

RIDERS OF THE NORTHWEST MOUNTED (1943) is a modest 57-minute Columbia Pictures "B" film. Russell Hayden, who went by "Lucky" in many of his Westerns, here plays Mountie Lucky Lawson. You can read a nice profile of Hayden at The Old Corral.

Lucky goes up against a mean-spirited trader named Victor Renaud (Dick Curtis) who cheats trappers out of what they're rightfully due for their furs. Matters are complicated when Renaud's legal ward, his niece Gabrielle (Adele Mara), comes home from her convent school, ready to take over the trading business left to her by her father. Uncle Victor has to figure out a way to swindle Gabrielle along with the trappers!

Unfortunately Lucky's methods of dealing with problems aren't always apppreciated by his superiors, including Captain Blair (Vernon Steele), and Lucky finds himself kicked out of the Mounties for insubordination. This scene, with his uniform torn off, followed by a whipping, is rather disturbing. Of course, this doesn't really mean we've seen the last of Lucky...

One of the fun things about the movie is the approach to portraying the Mounties -- Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys all play Mounties, so they made Bob a Texas native who joined the Mounties! That angle cracked me up. The music is the best thing about the movie; it doesn't add much to the plot, but it does give the film great atmosphere. I love Western music, so it was fine with me that at times the movie felt more like a concert than a Western! The songs included "When You're a Mountie," "Song of the Rippling Stream," "Bluebonnet Lane," and "The Last Goodbye."

Character actor Dub Taylor is the comic relief. As is usually the case with these kinds of roles, a little of him goes a long way. It makes me wonder why the tradition of a grizzled comedian supporting the lead persisted so long but it was certainly the "done thing" in many "B" Westerns, including actors like Smiley Burnette, Gabby Hayes, and Fuzzy Knight. At least the postwar Tim Holt Westerns broke the mold with the handsome and charming "Chito" (Richard Martin) as Tim's sidekick!

RIDERS OF THE NORTHWEST MOUNTED was filmed in beautiful Big Bear Lake and Cedar Lake in Southern California. I recently saw Cedar Lake also standing in for Canada in the Technicolor film UNTAMED (1940), which made me rather wish this little "B" film had been in color too, the better to show off the sparking lakes and the red Mountie uniforms.

The movie was directed by William Berke and filmed by Benjamin Kline.

As far as I can tell, this movie isn't available on DVD or VHS. I recorded it some time ago from the Encore Westerns Channel.

Previous O Canada Blogathon Entries: PONY SOLDIER (1952), CANADIAN PACIFIC (1949), and TRAIL OF THE YUKON (1949).

5 Comments:

Blogger Caftan Woman said...

So, the Mounties, like the US Cavalry, organize their troops by singing voices. Quick, we need more tenors at the fort!

PS: If it's a choice between "Windy" or "Chito", guess who gets my vote.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Silver Screenings said...

Laura, I know exactly what you mean about a Mountie in bright red serge!

The scenery in this film sounds beautiful, and the colour probably showed it to its best effect. It would have been even nicer if it was filmed in Canada! ;) #kiddingnotkidding

You've got me pumped to track down this film – mounties, music and the nefarious Victor. I know I'll enjoy it.

Thank you for joining the blogathon, and for bringing those handsome Mounties with you!

12:04 PM  
Blogger Silver Screenings said...

Whoops! I just double-checked the stills from this film, and it appears it was not filmed in colour. The film's promotional materials were throwing me off...

12:05 PM  
Blogger Kristina Dijan said...

I haven't seen nearly enough Mountie movies, shame on me, and frankly until this blogathon never knew there were so many, all the way into the spaghetti western times! This sounds fun, Bob Wills' music alone is a draw for me (LOLing at "we need more tenors"). Thanks as always for being part of the Canada party!

9:44 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hello, Canada! :) Thanks to all three of you for reading my post and commenting!!

I LOL re "we need more tenors at the fort"! (Definitely a vote for Chito here...)

Ruth, an easy oops to make given the colorful advertising! Would have been really great in color. Still, worth a look for lovely Big Bear standing in for Canada, plus a young Adele Mara and great music.

Kristina, that's interesting you've not seen many Mountie movies, I really love them and if you like Bob Wills you will like this movie!

I'm thinking maybe next year I'll do one of the ultimate Mountie movies -- ROSE MARIE (1954)!

Thanks, Kristina and Ruth, for hosting this event each year, I always learn fun new facts about Canadian actors and movies about Canada!

Best wishes,
Laura

8:37 PM  

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