The Spoilers (1942)

87 mins | Drama | 8 May 1942

Full page view
HISTORY

The film's title card reads: "Rex Beach's The Spoilers." The film begins with the following written foreword: "During the Alaskan gold rush, claim-jumping and mine-stealing became an everyday occurrence--lawlessness was rampant. This is the story of the frozen North when it not only wasn't frozen--but came gloriously close to being a hot spot. Nome 1900." According to information found in the Charles K. Feldman papers at the AFI Louis B. Mayer Library, producer-agent Feldman made an agreement with Jess Smith in Jul 1941 to purchase film rights to the Rex Beach novel for $17,500. On 29 Nov 1941, Feldman sold the rights to Frank Lloyd Productions, Inc. for $50,000, along with 25% of film's net profits, to be paid directly to Feldman by Universal, under a production agreement between Lloyd and the studio.
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA had major complaints about the sexual content of the original script for The Spoilers, in particular, references to pre-marital sex between "Roy" and "Cherry." On 9 Jan 1942, Lloyd and associate producer Lee Marcus met with the PCA and worked out the problems so that production could begin as planned a few days later. According to the Feldman papers, Tom Reed was paid $350 for one week of work on the screenplay, for which he received a co-writing credit. Universal borrowed director Ray Enright from Warner Bros. for the production. The shooting schedule was altered so that actress Margaret Lindsay could appear in the Columbia film, A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (See Entry). HR ...

More Less

The film's title card reads: "Rex Beach's The Spoilers." The film begins with the following written foreword: "During the Alaskan gold rush, claim-jumping and mine-stealing became an everyday occurrence--lawlessness was rampant. This is the story of the frozen North when it not only wasn't frozen--but came gloriously close to being a hot spot. Nome 1900." According to information found in the Charles K. Feldman papers at the AFI Louis B. Mayer Library, producer-agent Feldman made an agreement with Jess Smith in Jul 1941 to purchase film rights to the Rex Beach novel for $17,500. On 29 Nov 1941, Feldman sold the rights to Frank Lloyd Productions, Inc. for $50,000, along with 25% of film's net profits, to be paid directly to Feldman by Universal, under a production agreement between Lloyd and the studio.
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA had major complaints about the sexual content of the original script for The Spoilers, in particular, references to pre-marital sex between "Roy" and "Cherry." On 9 Jan 1942, Lloyd and associate producer Lee Marcus met with the PCA and worked out the problems so that production could begin as planned a few days later. According to the Feldman papers, Tom Reed was paid $350 for one week of work on the screenplay, for which he received a co-writing credit. Universal borrowed director Ray Enright from Warner Bros. for the production. The shooting schedule was altered so that actress Margaret Lindsay could appear in the Columbia film, A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (See Entry). HR news items state that, in Feb 1942, some scenes for the film were shot in Sunland, CA, under the second unit direction of producer Lloyd. According to Universal press materials, fifteen cameras were used to shoot the climactic fight sequence between Wayne and Randolph Scott, including one camera that was placed on a seven-ton crane. Press materials also state that the fight, which came directly from the Beach novel, was inspired by a 1901 fight the writer had witnessed himself in Nome between claim jumper Alexander MacKenzie and a Swedish miner named Chris Swanson.
       Actor William Farnum, who had starred in a 1914 silent version of The Spoilers, appeared in this film as "Wheaton," a lawyer. Wayne and Dietrich had previously appeared together in the 1940 Universal film Seven Sinners (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3971). Wayne, Dietrich and co-star Randolph Scott worked together again on another 1942 Universal release, Pittsburgh (See Entry). Art directors John B. Goodman and Jack Otterson and set decorators Russell A. Gausman and Edward R. Robinson received Academy Award nominations for The Spoilers, but lost to Richard Day, Joseph Wright and Thomas Little for their work on the Twentieth Century-Fox release This Above All (See Entry). The Feldman papers state that the final negative cost of The Spoilers was $723,455, and the film had world-wide gross of $2,060,000.
       The Feldman papers also note that Universal offered to pay Feldman $19,024 in 1949 to re-issue the film, but he rejected the offer, having learned that the studio had already made an agreement with Harris-Broder Pictures to re-issue the film, which would have drastically reduced his residuals. Feldman also discovered that Universal was making plans to film yet another version of the Beach novel. In Apr 1954, Feldman accepted $8,333 from Universal in lieu of any claims the producer-agent might have over future screen rights to Beach's novel. In Nov 1952, Feldman rejected Universal's offer to sell him all film rights to The Spoilers for $150,000.
       As noted above, the Beach novel had previously been filmed in 1914 by Selig Polyscope Co., starring William Farnum and Kathlyn Williams and directed by Colin Campbell (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.4216). In 1923, Lambert Hillyer directed a Jesse D. Hampton version, starring Milton Sills and Anna Q. Nilsson (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5334). A 1930 Paramount version starred Gary Cooper and Kay Johnson and was directed by Edwin Carewe (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5335). In 1955, Universal filmed the novel once more, starring Anne Baxter and Jeff Chandler and directed by Jesse Hibbs.

Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Apr 1942
---
Daily Variety
2 Jan 1942
---
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1942
p. 3
Film Daily
13 Apr 1942
p. 8
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 1941
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1941
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 1942
p. 8
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 1942
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1942
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 1942
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
10 Apr 1942
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
10 Apr 1942
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Apr 1942
pp. 609-10
New York Times
22 May 1942
p. 27
Variety
15 Apr 1942
p. 8
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Charles K. Feldman Group Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
John B. Goodman
Assoc
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
R. A. Gausman
Set dec
Edward R. Robinson
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus score
SOUND
[Sd] tech
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Spoilers by Rex Beach (New York, 1906).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Rex Beach's {q}The Spoilers{q}
Release Date:
8 May 1942
Production Date:
12 Jan--late Feb 1942
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
15 April 1942
LP11208
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
87
Length(in feet):
7,838
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8269
SYNOPSIS

In 1900, Nome, Alaska, gold miners Flapjack Sims and Banty protest to saloon owner Cherry Malotte that their claim has been stolen by crooked businessmen Bennett and Clark. She tells them not to take the law into their own hands, as Alexander McNamara, the new gold commissioner, has just arrived in town. Unknown to Cherry, McNamara is part of the claim-jumping scheme, as is Judge Horace Stillman and his beautiful niece, Helen Chester. Later, Roy Glennister, co-owner of the Midas gold mine and the love of Cherry's life, returns to Nome after a holiday abroad, amidst rumors that his romantic interest has wandered to Helen. Roy, however, goes to see Cherry in her parlor and tells her that he is "not the bended knees type." After making up with Cherry, Brad encounters McNamara at a poker table, where some of the other miners boldly accuse the commissioner of claim jumping. A fight begins, and Roy takes sides with the outnumbered McNamara. A few days later, though, Jonathan Struve, a stooge of McNamara, attempts to serve Roy and his partner, Al Dextry, with a legal notice, claiming that their mine is the property of another miner. While they initially dismiss the action, Helen arrives and warns Roy that the notice is legal, as it has been signed by her uncle. A few days later, McNamara and his men arrive at the Midas mine, intent on taking it over, but they are met with armed resistance. Judge Stillman then arrives and informs Roy and Dextry that, because of the disputed claims, the mine must be put into a receivership until a hearing ...

More Less

In 1900, Nome, Alaska, gold miners Flapjack Sims and Banty protest to saloon owner Cherry Malotte that their claim has been stolen by crooked businessmen Bennett and Clark. She tells them not to take the law into their own hands, as Alexander McNamara, the new gold commissioner, has just arrived in town. Unknown to Cherry, McNamara is part of the claim-jumping scheme, as is Judge Horace Stillman and his beautiful niece, Helen Chester. Later, Roy Glennister, co-owner of the Midas gold mine and the love of Cherry's life, returns to Nome after a holiday abroad, amidst rumors that his romantic interest has wandered to Helen. Roy, however, goes to see Cherry in her parlor and tells her that he is "not the bended knees type." After making up with Cherry, Brad encounters McNamara at a poker table, where some of the other miners boldly accuse the commissioner of claim jumping. A fight begins, and Roy takes sides with the outnumbered McNamara. A few days later, though, Jonathan Struve, a stooge of McNamara, attempts to serve Roy and his partner, Al Dextry, with a legal notice, claiming that their mine is the property of another miner. While they initially dismiss the action, Helen arrives and warns Roy that the notice is legal, as it has been signed by her uncle. A few days later, McNamara and his men arrive at the Midas mine, intent on taking it over, but they are met with armed resistance. Judge Stillman then arrives and informs Roy and Dextry that, because of the disputed claims, the mine must be put into a receivership until a hearing can be held. Trusting the Stillmans, Roy agrees to the hearing, but his older and wiser partner refuses, causing the two longtime friends to end their partnership. Later, Stillman holds his hearings, and while he reinstates Flapjack's claim, he refuses to restore the Midas mine to Roy and Dextry. Realizing that he has been deceived, Roy begs his friend's forgiveness, then makes arrangements with Dextry to appeal the decision. Meanwhile, McNamara and Stillman congratulate themselves on their scheme, by which they estimate they can steal $250,000 out of the Midas mine before the appeal. Helen, however, is having second thoughts, as she has fallen in love with Roy. With their legal options blocked, Roy, Dextry and their men break into the bank and steal back their money. In the midst of the robbery, however, Bronco Kid, Cherry's troubleshooter and rejected suitor, attempts to murder Roy, but accidentally kills the sheriff instead. After Roy is arrested for the murder, McNamara makes plans to kill him during a phony jailbreak. Helen, however, warns Cherry of McNamara's plans. With Cherry's help, Roy breaks out of jail, then uses a train to demolish the blockage around his mine. Back in town, McNamara and the Stillman learn of the insurrection from Struve, and the gang makes immediate plans to leave town. McNamara, however, decides to go first to the saloon and collect Cherry. Roy then arrives in town, and after killing Struve, heads for the saloon to confront McNamara. The two men fight and Roy is victorious. As he is about to kill the crooked gold commissioner, Roy is stopped by Dextry, who tells him to leave McNamara in the hands of "the law." Exhausted, Roy agrees and collapses, with Cherry by his side.

Less

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

The picture begins with actor Matthew Broderick, in the role of “Ferris Bueller,” speaking directly to the audience. His commentary continues intermittently throughout the picture.
       A 13 Jun ... >>

The Princess Bride

The synopsis and history for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Synopsis and history were written by Fitrah Hamid, a student at Georgia ... >>

Cape Fear

The film is bookended by scenes in which “Danielle Bowden” recites a reminiscence of the incident at Cape Fear that she wrote for a school assignment.
       A 31 Jul ... >>

Tokyo Joe

According to a 10 Dec 1948 HR news item, 2d unit director Art Black and cameramen Joseph Biroc and Emil Oster, Jr. shot 40,000 feet of background ... >>

Zoot Suit

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Anjuli M. Singh, an independent ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.