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Shot on location in Ketchikan, Alaska, the early RKO talkie The Silver Horde (1930) offers a realistic depiction of the rugged world of Alaskan salmon fishing. The adventure film stars Joel McCrea as a stalwart fisherman who fights unscrupulous businessman Gavin Gordon for control of a fishery and the hand of beautiful society belle Jean Arthur. Evelyn Brent costars as a golden-hearted dance-hall gal who proves to be McCrea's true love. The film, based on the Rex Beach novel, is a remake of a 1920 silent also entitled The Silver Horde; the title refers to the abundance of shimmering salmon that fills the fishermen's nets.
The film was a significant one for 25-year-old McCrea, who then had only one other lead to his credit. RKO soon signed him to a contract, and it was at that studio that the plainspoken actor built his reputation as a solid leading man in the Gary Cooper mold with such films as Born to Love (1931) and The Richest Girl in the World (1934).
Jean Arthur, eight years away from her breakthrough performance in The More the Merrier (1943), was still in her ingenue stage at the time of The Silver Horde. After her quicksilver presence and lovably croaky voice had made her a major star, she reteamed with McCrea for Adventure in Manhattan (1936) and, most notably, The More the Merrier (1943).
Producer: William LeBaron, William Sistrom (associate)
Director: George Archainbaud
Screenplay: Wallace Smith, from novel by Rex Beach
Cinematography: John W. Boyle, Leo Tover
Scenery/Costume Design: Max Ree
Editing: Otto Ludwig
Cast: Evelyn Brent (Cherry Malotte), Joel McCrea (Boyd Emerson), Jean Arthur (Mildred Wayland), Gavin Gordon (Frederick Marsh), Blanche Sweet (Queenie), Louis Wolheim (George Balt).
by Roger Fristoe