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CANADIAN PACIFIC(director: Edwin L. Marin; screenwriter: Jack DeWitt/from the story by Jack DeWitt; cinematographer: Fred Jackman Jr.; editor: Philip Martin; music: Dimitri Tiomkin; cast: Randolph Scott (Tom Andrews), Jane Wyatt (Dr. Edith Cabot), J. Carrol Naish (Dynamite Dawson), Victor Jory (Dirk Rourke), Nancy Olson (Cecille Gautier), Robert Barrat (Cornelius Van Horne), John Parrish (Mr. Gautier), Mary Kent (Mrs. Gautier), Don Haggerty (Cagle), John Hamilton (Pere Lacomb); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nat Holt; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1949)
“Tells an inaccurate story of the building of the Canadian Pacific railroad.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s beautifully filmed on location in the Canadian Rockies, using the Cinecolor process; and it’s capably directed by Edwin L. Marin (“Fighting Man of the Plains”/”Colt .45 “/”Abilene Town”). It’s a well-crafted, well-acted and exciting romantic B Western that however tells an inaccurate story of the building of the Canadian Pacific railroad and offers a right-wing sermon on the values of guns. It also views the Indians as simple-minded fools who can be easily influenced by the white men. It’s based on a story by Jack DeWitt, who also handles the screenplay. The film’s best quality is that it’s a feast for the eyes.

Tom Andrews (Randolph Scott) is the rough-and-tumble main surveyor and strongarm troubleshooter for the Canadian Pacific railroad of Mr. Van Horne (Robert Barrat). In the 1880s the railroad must find a pass through the Rocky Mountains so it could stretch through all of Canada and unite the country. Those in the backwater areas object because they fear civilization will ruin their simple way of life and their livelihood of trapping. Dirk Rourke (Victor Jory) owns a trading post and talks the community of fur trappers into sabotaging the railroad. Tom is from the same community, and when he can’t talk sense into the fur trappers returns to the railroad and fights the unrest caused by Dirk. When nearly killed in an dynamite explosion caused by Dirk and his henchman Cagle, Tom is nursed back to health by the railroad doctor Edith Cabot (Jane Wyatt). While recovering all winter, he dumps his feisty backwater gal Cecilie (Nancy Olson) for Edith. In the spring, Dirk convinces the Indians to attack the railroad. Even though Cecille was rejected, she warns Tom of the raid. Dynamite Dawson (J. Carrol Naish) rides to get help while Tom and the railroad crew hold off the Indians. During the attack, Tom resorts to using his guns after promising Edith he wouldn’t, and the rigid humanitarian objects even though they’re in a life and death situation. Edith’s viewed as either a fool or saint–with the implication she’s the former. When the railroad wins the day, Tom chooses Cecille to be his wife. She’s viewed as a regular gal who is earthy and will stand by her man. All the philosophizing left me a wee bit parched.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”