Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NORTHERN PURSUIT (1943)

Errol Flynn's first film back after his statutory rape trial finds him as a Royal Canadian Mountie getting mixed up with a bunch of Nazi spies in the backwoods of Canada. That sounds exciting, but after the initial setup it kinda dies a slow death. The film opens with a team of Nazi's getting dropped off in far northern Canada. They kill some Indians before finally getting wiped out themselves by an avalanche. Only one Nazi lives through the avalanche and he's at Death's door by the time Flynn discovers him. Flynn sees this as part of a much bigger plan so he (with only his direct superiors in on it) endears himself to the prisoner. Stuff happens and after the German is taken into custody, Flynn publicly talks shit about Canada and quits the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and even punches his boss! He's looked upon as a traitor and a Nazi sympathizer, so when the German (along with some of his buddies) conveniently escape prison they look to Flynn for help traveling on foot to a remote location way the fuck up north somewhere since he knows the country.

You would think that this is where the real excitement starts, but no. You'd be wrong. Once Flynn and the escaped Nazi's get out in the wilderness...nothing happens! There's a lot of talking and walking, but no real tension. Yeah, Flynn tries to turn his captors on each other, but that goes over like a lead balloon. They keep talking about it being rough country, but everybody looks pretty comfortable. Nobody freezes to death, there's no frostbite or starvation or dysentery. And where are the animals?! I was hoping for a bear attack or maybe a pack of wolves, a rabid moose, a grumpy chipmunk, anything! Nothing. These woods are fucking dead. I didn't even see a wookalar. Nothing! So if there are no forces of nature or killer animals to keep us entertained then what is there? Not much.

Not all is bad though. Flynn has great screen presence and the direction by the legendary Raoul Walsh is impressive as always. I think the main problem with the film is the script is just kinda lame. There just wasn't enough action or adventure to keep me interested. Also it didn't help that Flynn and his love interest, Julie Bishop, had zero screen chemistry.

Worth a watch if you an Errol Flynn fan, but that's about it. I own it and I doubt I'll ever watch it again.
That look on John Ridgely's face.