27 October 2005 | Snow Leopard
Well Worth Seeing For the Scenery & Photography
The high quality scenery and photography in themselves make "The Chechahcos" well worth seeing. It was shot entirely on location in Alaska, and there are many sequences featuring beautiful and austere Alaskan scenery. All of the production end is of very good quality, down to the artistically detailed inter-titles that were clearly made with some care. It's especially impressive to see such attention to detail in a small-studio production.
The story is somewhat interesting, if overly melodramatic at times. While the setting is unusual and very interesting, the plot simply pulls together a number of stock elements that were well-worn even in the 1920s, from an orphaned girl to a dishonored woman to a villainous gambler and his henchman. In another setting, it would have gotten old quickly, but the background of nature's unforgiving forces and the frenzy of the gold rush usually help to keep the more hackneyed elements from becoming too obtrusive.
The cast consists of performers that were largely little-known even at the time, but most of them give creditable performances. Gladys Johnston is charming as the young heroine, and William Dills does a solid job as a crusty old codger who starts to care in spite of himself.
Overall, this is a good movie and worth seeing for anyone who enjoys silent films. The photography and scenery are especially worthwhile, and while this was supposed to have been a financial flop, several of the sequences anticipate scenes in Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" of the following year. Not to put it quite on that level, but "The Chechahcos" does have as much to offer as do a lot of other movies that are better remembered today.