NORTHWEST PASSAGE (1940) C 127m dir: King Vidor
w/Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, Walter Brennan, Ruth Hussey, Nat Pendleton, Louis Hector, Robert Barrat, Lumsden Hare, Donald MacBride, Isabel Jewell
The kids will love NORTHWEST PASSAGE and so will fans of historical adventure movies. Tracy plays Indian fighter Robert Rogers, the leader of Rogers' Rangers.
From The Movie Guide: "One of the greatest adventure films of all time, this Vidor classic owes much of its success to the rugged Tracy ....
"Based on Kenneth Roberts's well-researched novel about Rogers' exploits, NORTHWEST PASSAGE is a rousing adventure all the way, full of thundering action. Its depiction of the colonial era is amazingly convincing, thanks to the perfectionist techniques of director Vidor, who went at the $2 million production with the vigor and relentless energy of Robert Rogers himself. In fact, Vidor, who began working on the film with an incomplete script (new portions of which were flown daily to the production's Idaho location), believed that he was shooting a prologue for a film that would also include Rogers's search for the Northwest Passage. However, producer Hunt Stromberg and MGM decided to confine the film to Rogers's adventures during the Indian Wars, bringing Jack Conway in to shoot an ending to the film while Vidor was in New York. To make his 'prologue,' Vidor took his almost all-male cast into the wilds of Idaho, around Lake Payette, which resembled the New England terrain of 200 years earlier.
"In his first Technicolor film, Vidor made good use of the lush locations; [Sidney] Wagner and [William V.] Skall's cinematography [which was nominated for an Oscar] is absolutely breathtaking, capturing the rich blues of the lakes and the deep greens of the forests (although they had some trouble with the colors of the ranger costumes, until special dyes were ordered to tone down the kelly green hues). The film is marred only by its racism, pretty virulent even by Hollywood standards."