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Friday, December 17, 2010

NORTHERN PURSUIT (1943)

This was the most fanciful of the four WWII-themed pics Errol Flynn made with Raoul Walsh between 1942-45. It’s very entertaining on its own terms, but it gets overlooked, possibly because its last act plays like some proto-James Bond tale, and possibly because its leading lady, Julie Bishop, never quite made the grade. But don’t let that stop you; it’s a lot of fun and features some damn fine snowbound fakery from the Warners art department. Flynn plays a Canadian Mountie who gets himself kicked out of the force and winds up running around with a gang of Nazi invaders & sympathizers. Just don’t be too surprised when he’s revealed as working undercover to expose the whole dastardly plot. Oddly, there’s more than a few points of intersection with Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST in here; at one point they even decode a note that lays out the conspirators’ direction: North-North-West! The supporting players are the typically fine lot you expect from Warners, but Gene Lockhart is a real standout as a fifth columnist while the visually arresting Helmut Dantine is phenomenally effective as the head Nazi. Tasty, tasty stuff. Be sure to check out the Extras which include shorts from legit helmers like Jean Negulesco & Ray Enright with the likes of Burgess Meredith, Dane Clark & Ronnie Reagan. (And don't forget Powell & Pressburger's WWII cross-Canada adventure 49th PARALLEL/'41. Make it a DOUBLE-BILL.)

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