Friday, July 05, 2013


In snowy, raw Newfoundland, where only the hearty survive, Luke, the new mailman, is overtaken by a snowstorm and found unconscious. Brawny, cocky Jed finds Luke and takes him to the village where Mary Joe nurses him back to health.  Luke, because of his family's past, is considered a jinx (a "jinker") and has taken this lowly job to break the jinx but it didn't quite work. Over time, Mary Joe grows fond of Luke, even though the brutish Jed fancies himself to be her boyfriend. When the men of the village take their annual trek across the snowy wastes to Labrador to go seal hunting, Luke decides to join them. The ship captain discovers that Luke is a jinker and won't take him, but after Jed sees Mary Joe chatting up Luke, Jed gets Luke on board. On the ice, the ship eventually gets stuck in ice a few times and tension mounts between Jed and Luke (with Jed going so far as to take a shot at Luke) until, as the men drag the seals back to the ship, a storm rises which leaves Luke and Jed stranded on the ice.  Can they work together to survive?

This film is basically just another version of the old romantic rivals story, in which a rough-and-tough older man and a younger, better-looking "wet behind the ears" guy fall for the same woman and wind up competing for her. What makes this different is the background; it was shot almost completely outdoors and on location in Newfoundland. The scenes on the ice are spectacular and, despite the creakiness of the narrative conventions, this film is worth seeing just for the setting. The acting is fine if not anything special: Charles Starrett (hunky hero of THE MASK OF FU MANCHU) is Luke, Arthur Vinson is Jed—and since the woman's role is not as important as the showboating men, Louise Huntington, as Mary Joe, doesn’t get to make much of an impression. Real-life ship captain Bob Bartlett, who sailed with Admiral Perry to the North Pole, plays the captain. The young director, Varick Frissel, died in a ship explosion when he went back to Newfoundland to get more location footage. [TCM]

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