powered by AFI
Cecil B. DeMille's first foray into Technicolor yielded one of 1940's brightest adventures, Northwest Mounted Police. A typically grandiose DeMille epic, this Gary Cooper vehicle was actually based on an historical incident that took place on the western frontier of Canada in March-May 1885. Originally entitled The Royal Canadian Mounted, the film's title soon evolved into Scarlet Riders. But then an observant Paramount staffer stated that Scarlet Riders might be interpreted as a movie about horseback-riding prostitutes. So without further changes, Northwest Mounted Police stuck, despite the fact that the hero, played by Cooper, is actually a Texas Ranger.
This was Cooper's first Technicolor feature, excluding an appearance in a color sequence in an entertainment documentary, Paramount on Parade(1930). Cooper had previously worked for DeMille in The Plainsman(1936), and their newest collaboration drew warm praise from the director for the laconic actor's participation. DeMille actually had Joel McCrea in mind for the role at first, but once McCrea was deemed unavailable, DeMille easily accepted Cooper for his headliner.
DeMille's previous film, Union Pacific (1939), afforded him a new contract with Paramount and the creative leeway to shoot the picture in Technicolor. But despite the relative financial freedom to splurge, the looming war in Europe and in the Far East made the Paramount suits nervous, so budgetary restraint was observed with a firm eye affixed to the bottom line. It was because of these financial concerns that the studio cancelled DeMille's planned location shooting in Canada, forcing him to make do with Oregon and Hollywood backlots. Despite the restrictions, Northwest Mounted Police emerged as Paramount's biggest box office hit for 1940.
Northwest Mounted Police marked yet another collaboration between Cecil B. DeMille and Anne Bauchens. A quiet force behind the famously autocratic director, Bauchens was a pioneering film editor who worked almost exclusively for DeMille, editing all of his sound films over a period of almost 40 years and ending with The Ten Commandments in 1956. A highlight to her career working with DeMille was the Best Editing Academy Award she received for assembling Northwest Mounted Police. In addition to that victory, Bauchens also received recognition from the Academy with nominations for her work on Cleopatra (1935), The Greatest Show on Earth (1953), and The Ten Commandments(1956), all directed by C.B. DeMille, of course.
Director/Producer: Cecil B. DeMille
Screenwriter: Jesse Lasky, Jr., Alan LeMay, C. Gardner Sullivan
Cinematographer: Howard Greene, Victor Milner
Composer: Victor Young
Editor: Anne Bauchens
Art Director: Roland Anderson, Hans Dreier
Associate Producer: William Pine
Executive Producer: William Le Baron
Costume Designer: Joe De Young, Natalie Visart
Cast: Gary Cooper (Dusty Rivers), Madeleine Carroll (April Logan), Preston S. Foster (Sgt. Jim Brett), Paulette Goddard (Louvette Corbeau), Robert Preston (Constable Ronnie Logan), George Bancroft (Jacques Corbeau), Lon Chaney Jr. (Shorty)
by Scott McGee