Sunday, February 10, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Heart of the North (1938) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

HEART OF THE NORTH (1938) is an early Technicolor "Northerner" about the Mounties. It's a Warner Bros. film which was just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

Dick Foran stars as Sgt. Alan Baker of the RCMP. When Alan's friend and fellow Mountie Jim (Patrick Knowles) is shot by a group of thieves robbing the boat Jim is traveling on, Alan must search for the bad guys; this is complicated due to poor decisions by Alan's commanding officer (James Stephenson),as well as Alan's girlfriend Elizabeth (Gale Page) lying about the case in an effort to force Alan to leave the Mounties and rural life.

Eventually Alan and his pal Corporal Hardsock (Allen Jenkins) must make "unauthorized use" of a plane in order to see that justice is served.

HEART OF THE NORTH is listed at IMDb as the 18th three-strip Technicolor film to be released following the first Technicolor film, BECKY SHARP (1935), three years previously.

While the story and script are nothing at all special -- I've seen Foran "singing cowboy" "B" Westerns which were stronger -- the Warner Archive print is beautiful, and I mostly enjoyed the film just for its look. Shot by Wilfrid M. Cline and L. William O'Connell, the movie looks terrific, with many scenes filmed in the great outdoors.

Cedar Lake and Big Bear Lake seem to have been Hollywood "go to" locations to stand in for Canada in that era, as that area also appeared as Canada in Paramount's Technicolor film UNTAMED (1940) a couple years later.

The supporting cast includes Gloria Dickson (seen at left) as the girl who proves to be the right one for Alan, plus Russell Simpson, Joe Sawyer, and Pedro de Cordoba. Janet Chapman plays Knowles' orphaned daughter; while I usually enjoy and take great interest in child actors, I must admit that Chapman was fairly annoying, with her hyper-animated performance never seeming quite real.

HEART OF THE NORTH was directed by Lewis Seiler. It runs 83 minutes.

The Warner Archive DVD includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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