Spawn of the North (1938)

105,110 or 112 mins | Drama | 26 August 1938

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HISTORY

Florence Barrett Willoughby's novel was serialized in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Sep 1935--Jan 1936). Information in the Paramount story files at the AMPAS library reveals that Willoughby's novel was previously considered as material for a film, but was rejected due to its similarity to RKO's The Silver Horde. Early scripts were authored by Robert M. Yost and Stuart Anthony. Also included in the files are a story authored by Kurt Siodmak and a screen story written by Thames Williamson. Their contribution to the final film has not been determined. Early scripts cast Georges Rigaud in the lead, however, according to a news item in HR, he was replaced by Henry Fonda after shooting began because his French accent was too strong for the role. In addition, in other scripts, Fred MacMurray was cast as "Jim," and Frances Farmer as "Dian." HR news items reported the following: Randolph Scott was cast in a lead role, but left due to a commitment to another film. Maine sailor Captain Simray Graves was brought to Hollywood to appear in the film, Porter Hall was testing for a role in the film, and Beulah Bondi and Polly Moran were cast, however, they did not appear in the released film. As early as 1936, director Henry Hathaway was preparing the film, which was originally to be shot in color. According to a later news item in HR, Paramount sent a camera crew headed by Richard Talmadge to Ketchikan, Alaska to film the opening scenes of a salmon run. In a contemporary educational supplement to the film, Hathaway stated that the expedition ...

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Florence Barrett Willoughby's novel was serialized in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Sep 1935--Jan 1936). Information in the Paramount story files at the AMPAS library reveals that Willoughby's novel was previously considered as material for a film, but was rejected due to its similarity to RKO's The Silver Horde. Early scripts were authored by Robert M. Yost and Stuart Anthony. Also included in the files are a story authored by Kurt Siodmak and a screen story written by Thames Williamson. Their contribution to the final film has not been determined. Early scripts cast Georges Rigaud in the lead, however, according to a news item in HR, he was replaced by Henry Fonda after shooting began because his French accent was too strong for the role. In addition, in other scripts, Fred MacMurray was cast as "Jim," and Frances Farmer as "Dian." HR news items reported the following: Randolph Scott was cast in a lead role, but left due to a commitment to another film. Maine sailor Captain Simray Graves was brought to Hollywood to appear in the film, Porter Hall was testing for a role in the film, and Beulah Bondi and Polly Moran were cast, however, they did not appear in the released film. As early as 1936, director Henry Hathaway was preparing the film, which was originally to be shot in color. According to a later news item in HR, Paramount sent a camera crew headed by Richard Talmadge to Ketchikan, Alaska to film the opening scenes of a salmon run. In a contemporary educational supplement to the film, Hathaway stated that the expedition to Alaska lasted fourteen weeks and resulted in 80,000 ft. of film shot.
       Paramount constructed a steel and concrete tank on the studio lot which held 375,000 gallons of water, in which fishing boats and power cruisers were launched for close range shots. In addition, some scenes were filmed on location at Lake Arrowhead, Lake Tahoe, Balboa Island and the coast of Southern California where a fishing village was built. A news item in MPH mentioned that two women were injured in the crush of the crowd awaiting the preview in Westwood, CA. In 1938, the following were given Academy Awards for outstanding achievement in creating special photographic and sound effects: Gordon Jennings for special effects, assisted by Jan Domela, Dev Jennings, Irmin Roberts and Art Smith; transparencies by Farciot Edouart, assisted by Loyal Griggs; sound effects by Loren Ryder, assisted by Harry Mills, Louis H. Mesenkop and Walter Oberst.
       Var commented, "Merit of the film is in the persuasive and authentic photographic record of Alaskan life and customs. Highly interesting views of Indian ritual are shown as a new spawning season begins." In 1954, Paramount released Alaska Seas, a remake of Spawn of the North, directed by Jerry Hopper and starring Robert Ryan, Jan Sterling and Brian Keith.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1938
p. 3
Film Daily
9 Sep 1938
p. 15
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1936
p. 5
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1936
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 1938
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 1938
p. 33
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1938
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1938
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1938
p. 15
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1937
p. 8
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 1938
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
17 Aug 1938
p. 2
Motion Picture Herald
4 Jun 1938
p. 43
Motion Picture Herald
20 Aug 1938
p. 46
New York Times
8 Sep 1938
p. 27
Variety
24 Aug 1938
p. 12
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Assoc dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
Charles Lang
Photog
Process photog asst
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd rec
Sd rec
Loren Ryder
Sd eff
Sd eff asst
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
process photog
Spec photog eff asst
Spec photog eff asst
Spec photog eff asst
DANCE
Ceremonial dance staged by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Spawn of the North by Florence Barrett Willoughby (Boston, 1932).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
"I Wish I Was the Willow" and "I Like Hump-backed Salmon," words by Frank Loesser, music by Burton Lane.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 August 1938
Production Date:
21 Mar--18 Jun 1938
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
105,110 or 112
Length(in feet):
9,867
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4255
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Alaskan salmon fisherman Jim Kimmerlee encounters his old buddy, Tyler Dawson, who has been away hunting seal to earn enough money to buy his own steam schooner. When Russian fisherman Red Skain ties up to Jim's fish traps, Jim cuts his line so that he will be unable to steal from him. Tyler defends Jim from Red, and Red leaves the scene. Later, Tyler returns to town and to his girl friend Nicky Duval, who owns the local hotel. Newspaper reporter Windy Turlon reports that local fishermen, including Jim, Lefty, Skaggs and Partridge, are joining forces to retaliate against the pirates who have been stealing from their traps. Soon thereafter, Dian Turlon returns after an eight-year absence and reunites with her childhood friends, Jim and Tyler. City life has made Dian haughty and reserved. Her father senses trouble between Jim and Tyler, due to the piracy controversy, as Jim is on the side of the law, and Tyler is not. At the Indian salmon dance that night, Dian warms up, and re-ignites her love for Jim. Tyler invites Jim to join him in a partnership, but Jim refuses as he already owns a cannery that takes up his time. One day, Jim's friend Dimitri's ship is destroyed by an iceberg, and Jim saves Dimitri's life. Later Jim notices that Tyler's fish do not have net marks and realizes his friend has been stealing from traps. He warns him that anyone stealing from traps will be killed, but Tyler scoffs at his warning. One day, Jim, Lefty, Skaggs and Partridge sight Red stealing from their traps, but they arrive too ...

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Alaskan salmon fisherman Jim Kimmerlee encounters his old buddy, Tyler Dawson, who has been away hunting seal to earn enough money to buy his own steam schooner. When Russian fisherman Red Skain ties up to Jim's fish traps, Jim cuts his line so that he will be unable to steal from him. Tyler defends Jim from Red, and Red leaves the scene. Later, Tyler returns to town and to his girl friend Nicky Duval, who owns the local hotel. Newspaper reporter Windy Turlon reports that local fishermen, including Jim, Lefty, Skaggs and Partridge, are joining forces to retaliate against the pirates who have been stealing from their traps. Soon thereafter, Dian Turlon returns after an eight-year absence and reunites with her childhood friends, Jim and Tyler. City life has made Dian haughty and reserved. Her father senses trouble between Jim and Tyler, due to the piracy controversy, as Jim is on the side of the law, and Tyler is not. At the Indian salmon dance that night, Dian warms up, and re-ignites her love for Jim. Tyler invites Jim to join him in a partnership, but Jim refuses as he already owns a cannery that takes up his time. One day, Jim's friend Dimitri's ship is destroyed by an iceberg, and Jim saves Dimitri's life. Later Jim notices that Tyler's fish do not have net marks and realizes his friend has been stealing from traps. He warns him that anyone stealing from traps will be killed, but Tyler scoffs at his warning. One day, Jim, Lefty, Skaggs and Partridge sight Red stealing from their traps, but they arrive too late to catch him. He has left behind Dimitri and Ivan, however, who were working for Red and are killed for the theft. Jim and his friends return the bodies to Red's cabin, where Jim discovers to his dismay that Tyler has joined with Red. Dian makes a cake for Jim's birthday, but Tyler does not celebrate with them, as he is planning a final raid on the traps with Red. The celebration is interrupted by the arrival of the fishermen who have discovered Lefty murdered where he was guarding their traps. Hoping to protect his friend, Jim asks Dian to advise Nicky not to let Tyler leave the hotel that night. Tyler is adamant about going out, however, presuming that he can evade Jim and his friends. Desperate to protect Tyler, Nicky sabotages his boat, but he simply takes another boat instead. Tyler catches up with Red, who leaves him with Boris and Serge, members of his gang, to finish cleaning out the traps. After they are caught in the act by Jim, Tyler begins firing on Jim's boat. Jim is compelled to return the fire, and he shoots Tyler. Boris and Serge are killed. The deaths of his friends embitters Red, who becomes determined to force Jim out of the area. When Jim goes to Red's cabin, he finds it deserted, except for Tyler, who has been left unconscious and unattended. Jim takes Tyler to town, where he is operated on by a doctor. Jim is heartbroken and plagued by guilt for shooting his friend. When Tyler reawakens and learns how he was shot, he tells Jim he never wants to see him again, but confesses to Nicky that he is not mad at Jim and that he plans to leave him all he owns. Although he is not fully healed, Tyler goes on a last outing with Red, who believes they are out to revenge themselves on Jim. Jim encounters their boat, but finds that Tyler has deceived Red and locked him in his cabin. Near death, Tyler blows the boat's whistle, causing an avalanche, and steers the boat into the cliffs, crashing it underneath the avalanche, which kills them. Turlon's newspaper reports that Tyler's death "ennobled his life," and that he made fishing safe for all.

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

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