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  • The building of the Canadian Pacific railway was as much a milestone in the history of Canada as the transcontinental railroad in the United States of America. But the circumstances were so incredibly different the Canadians must have had a laugh and a half at this Hollywood story of one of the great events from their history.

    The great challenge of the railroad was getting it through just that last stretch of mountains in British Columbia. The track went through a mountain trail known as Kicking Horse Pass and it was quite the engineering feat. That was the main story with the building of the Canadian Pacific.

    But we have here is the plot of Union Pacific essentially brought under the Maple Leaf with villain Victor Jory stirring up the Indians to prevent the Canadian Pacific from getting through. Of course since he's up against chief engineer Randolph Scott, you know how this is going to come out.

    Randy as was the case in a lot of his westerns has two girls to choose from, railroad brat Nancy Olson and Quaker doctor Jane Wyatt. I really think Wyatt was a bit ridiculous pushing her pacifist beliefs in the middle of the Indian attack at the climax.

    On the plus side that Indian attack is one of the best I've ever seen in a western and you will be on the edge of your seat during the final shootout between Randolph Scott and Victor Jory. Also look for a good performance from the always dependable J. Carrol Naish as the locomotive engineer and Scott's sidekick. Also Dick Wessel as a murderous bartender is also quite good.

    Too bad that this particular episode in Canadian history got Americanized though.
  • In the opening of the film there is a scene of a modern steam-powered freight train leaving Calgary, and there the accuracy comes to an end. This film is supposed to be based on the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but it's pure Hollywood hokum. Nobody did their homework. There is the usual shoot-outs, gun battles, renegade Indians, "bad guys," sabotage, and the "romantic angle." None of these things happened during the building of the Canadian Pacific; the ever-present Mounties saw to it. In defense of the film it is a typical out-of-the-file story. Not good, but not that bad either. Randolph Scott is good (Randolph Scott was always good!) If you're looking for a Saturday-afternoon-matinée Western, this one will do. If you're looking for an accurate story of the building of the Canadian Pacific, forget it.
  • 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A cowboy and Indian movie of a different type. The peoples of Canada have already fought the Indians and the winning spoils amount to land...lots of land. Tom Andrews(Randolph Scott) is the surveyor and "go to man" in case of troubles for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Greedy locals try their best to stall the railroads completion by stealing dynamite. When they become more aggressive, they sell the explosives to the Indians and turn around blaming them for blowing up the rails. Maybe causing an Indian uprising will stop the railroad. Andrews gets blown up with a wagon full of explosives and is saved by a transfusion from Dr. Edith Cabot(Jane Wyatt), who will be vying for his affection with Nancy Olson playing the sister of one of the angry locals(Victor Jory).

    Filmed mostly on different Canadian National Parks and on Indian Reserve land, this movie was not exactly a box office smash; but Scott fans were satisfied and even put up with the lousy attempt at early color. Also starring are: J. Carrol Naish, John Parrish, Grandon Rhodes, Walter Sande and Don Haggerty.
  • As has been pointed out, this is a highly imaginative account of the building of the Canadian Pacific. Perhaps the Scott character is based on Major Albert Bowman Rogers who, Wikipedia tells us, was tasked with finding a route through the Selkirk Mountains. The CPR promised him a cheque for $5,000 and that the pass would be named in his honour. Rogers became obsessed with finding such a pass and discovered it in April 1881.

    I saw it some years ago on British TV and have just watched it again courtesy of a slightly fuzzy copy on YouTube. Just about the only scenes I recalled were Scott's miraculous escape from the dynamite explosion (not completely impossible, I understand), the bandage on Scott's head that shifted in the same scene, and Dynamite Dawson's escape from the Indians.

    The blood transfusion scene (in a moving train that was remarkably stable) was perhaps a bit ahead of its time. By the late 19th century, blood transfusion was still regarded as a risky and dubious procedure, and was largely shunned by the medical establishment.

    Scott, in his early fifties, again has two far young women vying for his affections, but he was still a good-looking guy.

    I enjoy these American "building-a-railroad" films, and this was good entertainment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wow, is this an ugly movie. While it was originally filmed in color and must have been a pretty film, the print shown on Turner Classic Movies was incredibly ugly--very fuzzy and with weird color saturation. It just looked dreadful and the movie is clearly in need of restoration.

    The story, not surprisingly, is about the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Because a baddie is trying to stir up the fur trappers against the railroad (mostly because he hates the railroad man, Randolph Scott), Scott spends almost all of the movie putting out fires, so to speak. Fighting among the work crew, missing dynamite and a variety of other problems are all solved by out stalwart hero. And, along the way, he meets a pretty female doctor. Because they instantly hate each other, you KNOW that according to cliché #33, they will be head-over-heels in love by the end of the film...it just has to be! However, and at least here it does NOT follow convention, there is another girl throughout the film and Scott's choice by the end of the film WAS a bit of a surprise. At one point it looks like poor Randy is about to die...but according to cliché #1, a hero cannot die (unless you are John Wayne in "Sands of Iwo Jima"). And finally, the Indians are all bad...bad, bad, bad (cliche #4).

    The big conflict in this film is not between the baddie or the railroad workers, exactly. It's more a conflict within Scott, as his usual method of kicking butt is at odds with his new sweetie and her refined ways. She wants Scott to handle things like a gentleman--and he becomes very reticent to act as a result. And, not surprisingly, things on the railroad start to unravel quickly. But by the end, Scott proves that the best way to maintain the peace is violence! Yay, violence! On hand as supporting are J. Carrol Naish, Robert Barratt and the baddie, Victor Jory. All three are very well-known by fans of classic Hollywood films. While these are all good actors, the film itself seems very routine and is certainly not among Scott's best. Now it isn't bad...just not all that good and you'd certainly not put this on par with his later films directed by Budd Boetticher.
  • mmcgee28221 November 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Years ago I saw it on t.c.m.It was a good print,but,not excellent.After new version from Kino Lorber,I realize that the older print was poor.The preservationist did a good job.Half of the surviving element were in the united states,but the rest of the elements where in Germany and was restored there .The American elements were scanned to Germany ,probably via internet,since the American elements could not be sent.The one that was on t.v was based many of the surviving prints of that movie,both 16mm and.There was even an 8mm ,8 minute silent version released in the early 60's ,in black and white by castle films as well as a 16mm color sound version printed the Cinecolor way,which an excerpt of it beside the 8mm version is on the Blu-ray.It seem that the chemical restored version on Eastman color was dissatisfying.They got the black and white Cinecolor masters and recombined it and fixed it up digitally a lot better than the chemical print.There were problems in the black and white master on some of the frames,since these were dupes ,the original and negatives have been destroyed long ago.There were missing frames and tear the preservationist were able to digitally eliminate and replace.Only two problems could not be solved.There was one shot that was dark for a couple of seconds.It could not be removed.The final shot of Randolph Scott and Nancy Olsen looking at each other and then the camera ,the second color element was missing.The Cinecolor print version was of poor quality.The only solution was to print that shot in black n white,but the rest of the ending color remains intact.That wasn't bother some. The Story? Randolph had just done his last job for the railroad surveying for Robert Barat. He's going home to Marry his wildcat sweet heart,played by Nancy Olsen,in her first film role.He just got shot by Victor Jory almost,who was also interested in Nancy.He finds out that Jory is organizing the Community to turn against the expansion of the rail road cause it would ruin his own business.Randolph decides to go back ,in order to help protect it,so it will be complete.Jane Wyatt plays the female doctor ,who work for the rail road, who is against guns and tries to persuade Randolph to solve indifference without the use of violence.Jay Carroll Naish plays his side kick ,who always makes up stories.Wonderful music score by Dimitiri TIomken.Good Western.also includes black n white trailer reissue. 11/21/16
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It must have seemed a bit of deja vu for Randolph Scott, in starring in this yarn about some major problems encountered on the western prairies and in the Rockies, in building the Canadian transcontinental railway(CPR). A decade earlier, he had costarred with Shirley Temple, in "Suzanna of the Mounties". He played a Mountie, in a screenplay that featured problems surrounding the building of the CPR across the western prairies, including hostilities with the Blackfoot. The present film deals with the same basic historical subject, including Native American hostilities, but focuses much more on the rail-building aspect, and is a longer film. Thus, this film much more reminds us of the earlier de Mille-produced "Union Pacific" : another flag-waving epic, centered around obstacles, real and imagined, in the earlier building of a US transcontinental railway. The aspect of trapper-trader Rourke trying to sabotage rail constructions reminds us of the de Mille film "Unconquered", released a few years earlier. Yet another de Mille film: "Northwest Mounted Police" also shows some similarities to the plot. The dramatized resistance of the mixed race frontiersmen Metis, as well as the Native Americans , to the building of the railway, may also be interpreted as an unhistoric reason for the approximately contemporary and disjointed uprising of the Metis, Cree, and Assiniboine in Saskatchewan against the Canadian government, in which the nearly completed railway played an important role in quickly transporting troops to quell the uprisings.

    Randy plays Tom Andrews, who, in the first portion of the film, finds the pass through the Rockies that will be used by the railway. He is shown alone, scrambling over dangerously slippery steep rocky riversides. The historic Rogers, who was given this assignment, certainly was no lone wolf in this endeavor. In the screenplay, this makes him more vulnerable to being shot by Rourke and Cagle, who are leading the anti-railroad verbal and physical campaign in this region. Before this, we are treated to a brief debate in the Canadian parliament about the practicalities and urgency of building such a railway. The historical person of Cornelius Van Horne, as head of this enterprise, is included. We will meet him again periodically at the railhead. His finishing rallying cry is "If Hannibal crossed the Alps, we can cross the Rockies".

    After finishing his job of finding the pass, Tom declines Van Horne's expectation to continue on as troubleshooter, something he is renowned for in past rail-building projects. Tom goes to see his young French-derived Metis girlfriend, who is greatly impressed with his qualities, giving a warm reception. But when he later changes his mind, and goes back to the unsettled and dangerous job of rail building troubleshooter, she says their relationship is finished. Rourke is also interested in her, providing a second reason to want to be rid of Tom. For most of the rest of the film, Tom deals with various chronic problems that threaten to end completion of the track. The Metis, some of whom are working in building the track, continue sabotage operations, including blowing up track with dynamite stolen from the worker camp(actually unnecessary in this prairie section!), and payroll delays. Rourke finally convinces the Native Americans(who look real) to join in the fight against the railway. This causes Cecille to change sides again, running to the worker camp to warn of a planned 'Indian'-Metis attack.

    Meanwhile, Tom has developed a relationship with another woman: Dr. Edith Cabot(Jane Wyatt). She is also a pacifist, who advocates trying to solve personal and political problems by diplomacy, rather than by Tom's shooting and knock them down style of dealing with troublemakers. Tom is overly impressed by Edith's saving of his life with a personal blood transfusion, after he is nearly killed in a dynamite explosion. This sparks a romance during the winter layoff. Come spring, he agrees to try her diplomacy method of dealing with troublemakers. But, is not working. So, he puts his guns back on to back up his demands, to her displeasure. We get the impression that their romance is finished. In the finale, we have a standard happy ending: the workers get paid, Rourke and Cagle are dead, the Native Americans apologize for their brief hostility, sabotage stops, and Tom feels he can finally retire from his dangerous job. He just has to decide whether to accompany the middle-aged Edith on a train east, or start a settled life with his vivacious 'barefoot' Metis girl.

    It's not a bad screenplay, for interest. However, the cheap Cinecolor filming has some obvious drawbacks, As usual, Randy makes a charismatic, likable, hero, who should have died in that dynamite explosion. Wyatt's Edith is basically a cold fish, behind her doctoring. Cecille(Nancy Olson) makes a winsome passionate 'native' girl for Scott's character, their very different cultural backgrounds providing some tension in their relationship. However, they look more like a romantic father-daughter pair, with Scott 50, and Nancy only 21. I'm surprised the strict censorship board didn't nix such relationships....J. Carrol Naish often served as Scott's colorful sidekick.. Partly filmed on an 'Indian' reservation near Banff.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The first thing one has to accept is that the quality of the film broadcast over Turner Classic Movies is terribly degraded. One of the worst I have ever seen on that network. But, I still give the network kudos for recently bringing forth a lot of films that haven't been seen in years. I understand that this was an independent film distributed by 20th Century Fox, and if true, perhaps that is why it has not been preserved well. The sad thing is that much of the film was hotographed on location in the beautiful Canadian Rockies. But you can't see the beauty very well due to the degradation of the film.

    My other complaint is not about the film, but about Randolph Scott. Scott was a fine leading man in many pictures before he turned to Westerns. Perhaps had he known how out-of-favor Westerns would later become, he might not have concentrated on them so much in his later career. At least this is one of his better Westerns with a decent budget.

    The film starts out as more than the typical Randolph Scott western. Opening scenes are filmed in the valley north of Banff, Canada, and, if I'm not mistaken, at Takakkaw Falls. At any rate, I was excited to see several locations where I hooted, "Oh, I've been right there!" But, while this film had great potential, and might have been great under a better director (Edwin Marin -- over 50 films to his credit, but none that were first rate), after a while it sinks into rather predictable clichés found in so many other westerns.

    That's not to say the film doesn't have some notable features. Good performances by Randolpf Scott and the lovely Jane Wyatt (not long before she became the wife of "Father Knows Best" on television), for starters. And some character actors we don't see so often (including "Perry White" from t.v.'s "Superman"). On the other hand, I felt Nancy Olson's performance as the third member of the romantic triangle was a horrible performance. You'll recognize quite a few of the character actors in the film, although you'll likely not remember their names.

    The vivid scenery that is so stunning at the beginning of the film is no more after the opening minutes. For the rest of the film, the locations are on the prairie And some of the stage scenes cut into the scenery look so fake.

    On the one hand, it appears that most of the Indians in the film were real Indians. But, while the Indians are seen as the "good guys" in the first half of the film, later in the film they are made to appear gullible and murderous. Quite inconsistent.

    I've grown weary of the many westerns made in the late 40s and throughout the 1950s. But I will give this film credit for having high expectations, even if those expectations didn't quite pan out. It is worth watching, and I recommend it over most westerns.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There are some reviews for the film on this board written some time ago that bemoan the poor rendition of the film along with some fuzzy sound quality. The version I caught on Turner Classics the other night seems to have rectified that problem. In fact, there's a two screen opening sequence that describes the Cine Color restoration project that transformed the picture closer to it's original quality. Even so, the color palette is heavy on the blues, greens and browns, which isn't so bad considering the filming location in Alberta, Canada, and the story's emphasis on building a railroad through the Canadian Northwest passage.

    In a lot of respects, the story line borrows an element from many B Westerns of the Thirties and Forties. Railroad surveyor Tom Andrews (Randolph Scott) maps out a path through rugged, mountainous terrain, but a villain opposed to the railroad incites a local Indian tribe to make trouble for the construction crew. Victor Jory puts on his outlaw clothes for this one, and attempts to maintain his trade advantage with the local fur trappers by opposing potential business interests from becoming established in the territory. I could never actually understand that argument, simply for the fact that more people arriving in an area would mean more business for everybody.

    Andrews pursues and is pursued by two women in the story, a mountain gal that simply adores him from the get-go (Nancy Olson), and the settlement doctor (Jane Wyatt) who helps save his life by offering a blood transfusion following an attempt on Andrews' life. That's another story altogether, in as much as Andrews survived a dynamite blast that took out a wagon he was standing right next to. The reason he wasn't killed - get this - is because he was standing too close to it!?!? Another character even mentions that if he was further off, he would certainly have gotten killed! How does that work?

    Well it does all work out alright for Andrews to foil the bad guys and get the rail track on the way to completion. Randolph Scott once again manages his customary frequent outfit changes, but this time without resorting to the traditional all black he's known for. As for how his romantic entanglement gets worked out, you'll have to catch the picture.

    The theme of this picture gets reworked in a 1952 movie also starring Randolph Scott titled "Carson City". In that one, Scott portrays an engineer ramrodding a railroad project between Virginia City and Carson City, Nevada. It too has opposing forces for the construction of a rail line, but only one gal for Scott's character to win by the end of the story, and in that one, he wasn't even trying.
  • dsewizzrd-114 December 2008
    This Canadian western is filmed in Cinecolor, an early and not very effective attempt at colour.

    Randolph Scott is a surveyor for the railway and the locals attempt to stop the railway by stirring the Red Indians.

    Already with a fiancé, a keen and ripe local, Scott shacks up with a doctor working on the line. She gives him her blood after an incident, fortunately the same type as he lives rather than dying in screaming agony.

    But she's a dud, cos her fancy university learnin' has taught her to hate fightin' and shootin'.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sorry to say, but this movie is just an outrageous and farcical depiction of the work and hardships to follow-through and build the Canadian Pacific.

    Just saw it this morning on a TV channel in Mexico, of all places. Randolph Scott in love with a girl at least 25 year's younger? And she is desperate for him? Indians accepting sticks of dynamite thinking they're cigars and dancing around while the fuses are lit and they're still in their mouths? And they keep prancing around as if they're really cigars? And they all get blown up so the good guy can escape?

    Randolph on a buckboard entering an Indian village. The buckboard stops, he gets off, and just from the ground surface he instinctually whipes his foot over it to expose a box of dynamite? And he meets the Chief in very short walking distance, the chief and his tribal leaders follow Randolph to the buckboard and he uncovers several more boxes. And the chief and his party just didn't know, as if they were not paying attention when somebody brought in all those boxes and dough a big pit to bury them in, right in front of everyone's noses?

    And a woman doctor as the only female with a railroad construction in the middle of nowhere? Sure, women doctors are fine, but in this environment?

    And the opening scenes of Randolph Scott on foot climbing on a treacherous mountain with a huge waterfall in the background that has nothing to do with his finding a route? Entirely staged?

    And how about Randolph unloading the several boxes of dynamite.? The bad guy puts a bullet into a box and all of them explodes. A HUGE explosion. Randolph is right there, but survives.

    The way the Indians are depicted in this movie, I can only they were well paid.
  • Very disappointing to Canadians who know a little of their history, this 1940s-style western treats the building of the Canadian Pacific transcontinental railway as if it had occurred in the U.S., with many mistakes noted elsewhere in this entry, and a heavy dose of the U.S. cultural imperialism so typical of 20th century Hollywood's treatments of other peoples' histories.

    The film makes no references to the important political issues and scandals in eastern Canada that surrounded and heavily influenced the building process, nor the important effects of the ever-present French- English-Indian cultural tensions.

    A passable B-grade western for an undiscriminating audience.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If there is a bin for movies that should never be viewed again, except as an example of Old Hollywood run amuck with racism and bigotry, this film belongs there.

    From blowing up "injuns" by lighting dynamite cigars, to mispronouncing Métis consistently, to overuse of the greeting trope "How", to a French Canadian priest with an Irish accent (because in the US all Catholics were, of course, Irish), this movie runs the gamut of horrendous stereotypes and bad acting.

    And there was no excuse for the horrendously inaccurate Canadian references. "I call upon the member (of Parliament) for Ontario." Like there was one representative for the whole province! Hollywood at this point was teeming with Canadian actors and filmmakers and the the movie was filmed in Alberta!

    Bad. Just incredibly, irretrievably bad.