Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Far Country


A movie noteworthy mostly for its fabulous vistas of the Yukon Territory during the gold rush. It was actually filmed in Alberta, which I guess isn’t too far off. Everywhere you look, towering mountains, snow, glaciers. They even recreated the famous scene of the prospectors laboring up the Chilkoot Pass, which can be seen on a commemorative Alaska license plate. Other than that, I wasn’t too taken with it. This was the fourth western collaboration of Jimmy Stewart and Anthony Mann. Stewart is a cattleman bringing a herd up to the Yukon because the prices are great. They go by ship up to Skagway, where a corrupt Marshall takes them from him. He and crusty sidekick Walter Brennan go prospecting, but the venal snake-in-the-grass is taking over all the claims. You know it will end in blood, but Stewart takes way too long to do anything, because he has to see the error of his selfish ways and lose his friend first. I grew very impatient with him. And with the townspeople, who are all armed, all tough men, and all somehow cowed by the handful of nasties employed by the Marshall. Only at the very last moment do they show up and drive the skunks out of town, and I kept thinking, “Oh, so now that Jimmy is shot to pieces, now you show up with your rifles? Screw the lot of you. You don’t deserve to hold on to your claims if you won’t fight for them.”