17 May 2008 | JohnHowardReid
A Big Budget Makes for a Pretty Good Programmer
On the plus side, this movie comes with breathtaking photography, so delicately colored that this picture is always most attractive to look at. The backgrounds certainly have the appearance of actual locations, but as this movie is not listed in "Canadian Feature Films", the picture was obviously made closer to home.
Unfortunately, "Heart of the North" is not nearly so attractive to listen to. The dialogue is hackneyed and the plot no more than fairly exciting, but the action spots are staged with reasonable vigor and even panache despite obvious special effects work and the use of doubles on one or two occasions.
Dick Foran comes over adequately enough as the hero, (and we're glad to say he sings a snatch of a song too). If you can accept the Hollywood convention that has every sympathetic character looking so sparklingly clean, neatly groomed and beautifully made up, despite living in a shanty town amongst the likes of Harry Cording, then the heroine (Gloria Dickson) and the hero's pals (Patric Knowles, Allen Jenkins and Arthur Gardner) are reasonably adequate too.
Fortunately, James Stephenson rates a cut above this lot as the easily-swayed Inspector Gore, whilst Gale Page seems even more convincing as the villainous Elizabeth Spaulding. Russell Simpson gives his usual rough-and ready interpretation of the heroine's pa, while Garry Owen takes out the movie's acting honors as the demented Tommy. The villains, led by Joe Sawyer and Joseph King, notch up as sufficiently pleasing.
Unfortunately, the producer didn't let well enough alone, but saddled the cast with young Janet Chapman. The whiny-voiced Miss Chapman inflicts a real pain in the neck. And would you believe it, there's also a dog. True, these misfits disappear from the action for quite long stretches. And we must admit the close-ups of the mutt are appealingly photographed.
The music score has that vigorous Warner Brothers' ring to it. While the film editor often seems to be bending over backwards to cut in all the many and various camera set-ups that director Seiler shot, production credits are agreeably polished. "Heart of the North" encompasses all the gloss we might expect of a top-budget Warner "A" production.