Northwest Mounted Police (1940)

“Blood – you won’t notice it much; those Northwest mounted police wear red coats.”

A Texas ranger (Gary Cooper) hoping to arrest a murderous trapper (George Bancroft) travels to the northwest prairies of Canada, where he encounters a band of mounted police about to fight a rebellion by native peoples and “half-breed” locals led by Louis Riel (Francis McDonald). Loyalties become complicated when Cooper falls for a beautiful nurse (Madeleine Carroll) whose brother (Robert Preston) is enamored with Bancroft’s manipulative daughter (Paulette Goddard); meanwhile, Goddard will stop at nothing to defend both her people and the man she’s obsessively in love with (Preston), and a Mountie (Preston Foster) hoping to marry Carroll resents Cooper’s presence.


Cecil B. DeMille directed this Technicolor blockbuster by Paramount Studios, based on a real-life rebellion taking place in Saskatchewan, Canada in the late 1880s. It was soundly lambasted by Harry Medved and Randy Dreyfuss in their book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (and How They Got That Way) (1978), and while it doesn’t quite merit that label, it is pretty lame — thanks primarily to Goddard’s god-awful performance as a “half-breed” femme fatale, but also to Cooper’s aw-shucks western presence in a film depicting a momentous Canadian event; the “comic relief” of a red-headed Scotsman (Lynne Overman) wearing a tam-o-shanter that plays a critical role in a later scene; and “immortal dialogue” such as the following:

Preston: “You’re the sweetest poison that ever got into a man’s blood!”

Goddard: “I love you so terrible bad I feel good.”

Carroll: “Oh, Dusty — you’re an angel in leather!”
Cooper: “Heh… I’d look funny with leather wings.”

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine Technicolor cinematography and sets

Must See?
Nope; you can skip this one.


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