The Far Country
The Far Country is a 1954 American Technicolor Western romance film directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart, Ruth Roman, Walter Brennan and Corinne Calvet. Written by Borden Chase, the film is about a self-minded adventurer who locks horns with an evil, crooked judge while driving cattle to Dawson. It is one of the few Westerns, along with The Spoilers and North to Alaska, to be set (not filmed) in Alaska. This is the fourth Western film collaboration between Anthony Mann and James Stewart.
|The Far Country|
Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||Anthony Mann|
|Produced by||Aaron Rosenberg|
|Written by||Borden Chase|
|Cinematography||William H. Daniels|
|Edited by||Russell F. Schoengarth|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|22 July 1954 (London)|
|Box office||$2.5 million (US)|
In 1896, Jeff Webster hears of the Klondike gold rush and he and friend Ben Tatem decide to drive a herd of cattle to Dawson City, Yukon. On the way, he annoys self-appointed Judge Gannon by interrupting a hanging in Skagway, so Gannon unilaterly confiscates his herd. Jeff and Ben steal the animals back and take off with Gannon and his men in hot pursuit. After crossing the border into Canada, Jeff uses a few well-placed warning shots to persuade Gannon's gang to give up the chase, but the judge promises a hot reception when Jeff returns.
When Jeff gets to Dawson, he finds a widespread benign lawlessness, and ignores it as none of his business. He auctions off his herd for $2 per pound ($60/lb today) to new arrival Ronda Castle, a saloon owner and one of Gannon's business associates, when she outbids Hominy, Grits and Molasses, co-owners of the local hash house. Both Ronda and French-Canadian gamine Renee Vallon are strongly attracted to Jeff. Jeff and Ben use $40,000 ($1.2 million today) of their proceeds to buy an existing gold claim, soon doubling their money.
Ronda sets up a saloon in partnership with Gannon, who begins cheating the miners out of their claims. Gannon and his gunmen show up to grab their share (and then some), making Dawson much more dangerous. Jeff stays out of it, instead planning to sneak out by river while Gannon is otherwise occupied. However, Gannon is tipped off when Ben buys extra coffee for the long trip; his men kill Ben and wound Jeff, finally forcing him to take sides.
Jeff calls Gannon out to settle the dispute man to man, but the villain arranges an ambush. Ronda rushes out to warn Jeff and is fatally shot in the back. Jeff kills Gannon in the ensuing gunfight and the rest of his gang agree to leave town, rather than fight all the fed-up longtime residents, who have finally found their courage and have armed themselves to resist the gang.
- James Stewart as Jeff Webster
- Ruth Roman as Ronda Castle
- Corinne Calvet as Renee Vallon
- Walter Brennan as Ben Tatem
- John McIntire as Judge Gannon
- Jay C. Flippen as Marshal Rube Morris
- Harry Morgan as Ketchum
- Steve Brodie as Ives
- Connie Gilchrist as Hominy
- Robert J. Wilke as Madden
- Chubby Johnson as Dusty
- Royal Dano as Luke
- Eugene Borden as Dr Vallon
- Jack Elam as Newberry
- Kathleen Freeman as Grits
- Connie Van as Molasses
The character of Gannon may be loosely based on that of Soapy Smith, a confidence artist and gang leader who ran the town of Skagway during the Alaska Gold Rush. He was killed in a gunfight, although not as shown in the movie. The cattle were driven to Seattle, shipped to Skagway, and then driven further to Dawson, to total about 1,500 miles driven distance.
The film was first released in the summer of 1954 throughout the UK. It would be released in the US in February 1955. Stewart took a percentage of the profits. In 1955, William Goetz estimated that Stewart had earned $300,000 from the film.
- British Newspaper Archive
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
- "The Far Country". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- "Full cast and crew for The Bend of the River". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- "Filming locations for The Bend of the River". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- A TOWN CALLED HOLLYWOOD: Top Stars Now Share in Profits of Major Pictures Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 July 1955: d2.