“The law is working in 45 states — it ought to work in Alaska.”
During the Alaskan gold rush, a feisty saloon owner (Marlene Dietrich) is caught in a love quadrangle between a miner (John Wayne), a crooked gold commissioner (Randolph Scott), and the niece (Margaret Lindsay) of a corrupt judge (Samuel S. Hinds).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Gold Seekers
- John Wayne Films
- Marlene Dietrich Films
- Randolph Scott Films
- Strong Females
Based on an oft-filmed novel by Rex Beach, this Marlene Dietrich vehicle (set in the historic milieu of The Great Nome Gold Rush in 1900) offers plenty of straight-forward, old-fashioned cinematic drama — including love triangles, government corruption, good-versus-bad-guys, shoot-outs, and fist fights.
Given that we know who will triumph in the end, there aren’t many surprises in the narrative: the tension lies in getting there, and watching Dietrich struggle to accept the dictates of her heart, ultimately demonstrating her moral superiority over her romantic rival (though the final duke-’em-out scene belongs to Wayne and Scott).
Note: The demeaning portrayal of Dietrich’s African-American maid (Marietta Canty) is unfortunate, though sadly commonplace for the era.
Canty was typecast as a maid in Father of the Bride (1950), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), and Rebel Without a Cause (1955), among others.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Vera West’s gorgeous gowns (click here to read about West’s mysterious death-by-drowning at 47)
- Milton Krasner’s cinematography
No; this one is only must-see for fans of Dietrich or Wayne.