Wednesday, February 19, 2003

RIVER'S END (1940)

This was apparently the third film version of a novel by James Oliver Curwood, a writer from the early 20th century who wrote lots of nature adventure stories. Dennis Morgan plays John Keith, a man who has just been found guilty of murder and who pulls off a daring escape right from the courtroom. He's innocent and is being framed by the real villains, but can't prove it, so after he pays a quick visit to his buddy George Tobias, he lights out into the Canadian wilderness. A Mountie named Connison (also played by Morgan) is sent in pursuit. The two finally meet up, but Connison is in bad physical shape and Keith tries to nurse him back to health in an isolated cabin. Just before the Mountie dies, he tells Keith he believes in his innocence and, as they look alike except for a scruffy beard, Keith poses as Connison just as a couple more Mounties (one being John Ridgely) catch up. Morgan goes back to civilization as Connison, with the story that Keith died, and tries to catch the real killers. Elizabeth Inglis (the real-life mother of Sigourney Weaver) plays Connison's sister, who hasn't seen him in years. There's a funny bit when Morgan and Tobias first meet her and are trying to figure out if she's his wife or girlfriend. Victor Jory is the real bad guy, who begins courting Inglis, much to Morgan's dismay. It's a little weird at the end when Inglis, who all along has been thinking of Morgan as her brother, seems to have few qualms about accepting him as a boyfriend! James Stephenson (THE LETTER) is the chief Mountie. Overall, a snappy and efficient B-adventure with some nice scenery. Re-release title, which TCM uses: DOUBLE IDENTITY.

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