SPOILERS OF THE NORTH. Universal Pictures, 1947. Paul Kelly, Adrian Booth (Lorna Gray), Evelyn Ankers, James A. Millican, Roy Barcroft, Louis Jean Heydt. Screenplay: Milton Raison. Director: Richard Sale.

   There are two good reasons for watching this movie, and neither are the two male stars. Adrian Booth is one of them. Earlier on in her career she was the actress Lorna Gray who played Vultura in the Republic serial Perils of Nyoka. The other is the slim, blonde and beautiful Evelyn Ankers, who might be recognized most by many as appearing in a couple of the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies.


   There were other substantial highlights in each of their respective careers, and respectable ones at that, but I don’t believe that either actress would have placed this film very high in their résumés. Padded with scenes of the Alaskan salmon industry, including the complete cycle of spawning, catching and the packing of the fish into small cans, without the presence of the two lovely ladies, there would be little left but the barest scraps of meat on a lot of bleached-out bones.

   Paul Kelly is the nominal star of the movie, playing the kind of guy who has a girl in every port, and does. Evelyn Ankers is the one in Seattle, who comes up to help Kelly when he falls behind on the quota he’s promised his buyer. Faking an injury, Kelly needs her on hand to help persuade his brother (hunky James Millican) to not let him down and abandon ship (literally and figuratively) when the spawning season is over.


   And Adrian Booth is the half-breed girl up in Alaska whom Kelly has persuaded to help keep the local Native Americans working for him – by special dispensation, they are allowed to fish salmon all year round. It’s a crooked scheme, but Kelly is up to it. Even so, not only does he have to keep the U.S. Fisheries patrol from catching on, there are the two women who can’t be allowed to discover that he’s promised to marry each of them.

   And then, of course, there’s the brother, the honest one, who can’t but admire his brother’s taste in women. If you couldn’t make a small story out of these several small threads of plot, perhaps you’re not quite trying. There is one scene, though, I have to admit, that took me by surprise, and if you were ever to watch this film, it might you also.


PostScript.   Yes, in case you were wondering, director Richard Sale is the same Richard Sale that started out writing tons of stories for the pulp magazines, long before he found his small niche in Hollywood as a producer, director and screenwriter (most famously for Gentlemen Marry Brunettes). The movie itself is available for watching or downloading at www.archive.org.


Poster, upper right. Paul Kelly and Adrian Booth.

DVD, on left: Paul Kelly and Evelyn Ankers.

Black and white scene, lower right: James Millican and Evelyn Ankers.

Lobby card, above: Paul Kelly and Adrian Booth.