Northwest Passage


Period and swashbuckler films

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Time Out says

Subtitled 'Rogers' Rangers' and intended as the first instalment in a two-part true-life adventure (the second film was never made because Tracy and Vidor didn't get on), this 18th century frontier saga follows Tracy's Major Rogers and map-maker Young into Canada to quell the Indian tribes who'd been striking across the border at the colonists. Vidor certainly plays up the hardships they endure en route, but it's hard for modern viewers to look on in approval as Tracy and his men set fire to a sleeping Indian village, treated as just another testing obstacle like the torrential river bridged by the teamwork of a human chain. It's never suggested that his heroes emerge from all this unscathed, but they are certainly made stronger and wiser by the experience. The early Technicolor gives the film the look of a children's storybook.


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