19 April 2009 | morrisonhimself
Excellent cast amid spectacular scenery, eh
Generally, one has to read only "starring Randolph Scott" to know one is about to experience cinematic pleasure.
This film is different -- only in that Scott's character, Tom Andrews, has a double romance and is tempted to give up his fists and guns.
His first romance is with an intriguing character, a wild young woman who is so obviously smitten with Tom we are made happier by basking in her love.
Watching Nancy Olson in that role, I marveled at the strength she gave the character, Cecille Gautier. She also gave dimension, and beauty, and made Cecille someone we had to support.
As Tom gets involved with Dr. Edith Cabot, played by Jane Wyatt, who has probably never looked lovelier, we wonder which of the two women will lose.
The romance, though, is a sub-plot, and the major plot is the battle to complete the railroad, a battle against the elements and seasons, and against topography -- that spectacular scenery that even today lures tourists by the millions -- and against humans, some of whom are nefarious, some of whom are merely trying to protect their traditional way of life.
Besides the stars, cameo bits by such outstanding players as Earle Hodgins and Edmund Cobb and the incredibly prolific George Chandler (more than 400 roles!) make "Canadian Pacific" a great movie.
John Hamilton, with more than 300 roles to his credit, was usually seen as a police officer or judge or, most famously, the irascible Perry White in the "Superman" TV series. Here he shows his actor's range playing a peace-seeking priest.
The script, from a story by Jack DeWitt, and written by DeWitt and Kenneth Garnet, really fleshes out the characters, especially in the beginning with some charming dialog.
The music, by Dimitri Tiomkin, is something different from him, especially at the beginning, but is, of course, great. It is, after all, by Tiomkin.
The print I saw, recently televised by Turner Classic Movies, was not in great shape, and the sound had a wobble to it, but the movie was so good, the problems became very minor.