Spawn of the North
Cast & Crew
Alaskan salmon fisherman Jim Kimmerlee encounters his old buddy, Tyler Dawson, who has been away hunting seal to earn enough money to buy his own steam schooner. When Russian fisherman Red Skain ties up to Jim's fish traps, Jim cuts his line so that he will be unable to steal from him. Tyler defends Jim from Red, and Red leaves the scene. Later, Tyler returns to town and to his girl friend Nicky Duval, who owns the local hotel. Newspaper reporter Windy Turlon reports that local fishermen, including Jim, Lefty, Skaggs and Partridge, are joining forces to retaliate against the pirates who have been stealing from their traps. Soon thereafter, Dian Turlon returns after an eight-year absence and reunites with her childhood friends, Jim and Tyler. City life has made Dian haughty and reserved. Her father senses trouble between Jim and Tyler, due to the piracy controversy, as Jim is on the side of the law, and Tyler is not. At the Indian salmon dance that night, Dian warms up, and re-ignites her love for Jim. Tyler invites Jim to join him in a partnership, but Jim refuses as he already owns a cannery that takes up his time. One day, Jim's friend Dimitri's ship is destroyed by an iceberg, and Jim saves Dimitri's life. Later Jim notices that Tyler's fish do not have net marks and realizes his friend has been stealing from traps. He warns him that anyone stealing from traps will be killed, but Tyler scoffs at his warning. One day, Jim, Lefty, Skaggs and Partridge sight Red stealing from their traps, but they arrive too late to catch him. He has left behind Dimitri and Ivan, however, who were working for Red and are killed for the theft. Jim and his friends return the bodies to Red's cabin, where Jim discovers to his dismay that Tyler has joined with Red. Dian makes a cake for Jim's birthday, but Tyler does not celebrate with them, as he is planning a final raid on the traps with Red. The celebration is interrupted by the arrival of the fishermen who have discovered Lefty murdered where he was guarding their traps. Hoping to protect his friend, Jim asks Dian to advise Nicky not to let Tyler leave the hotel that night. Tyler is adamant about going out, however, presuming that he can evade Jim and his friends. Desperate to protect Tyler, Nicky sabotages his boat, but he simply takes another boat instead. Tyler catches up with Red, who leaves him with Boris and Serge, members of his gang, to finish cleaning out the traps. After they are caught in the act by Jim, Tyler begins firing on Jim's boat. Jim is compelled to return the fire, and he shoots Tyler. Boris and Serge are killed. The deaths of his friends embitters Red, who becomes determined to force Jim out of the area. When Jim goes to Red's cabin, he finds it deserted, except for Tyler, who has been left unconscious and unattended. Jim takes Tyler to town, where he is operated on by a doctor. Jim is heartbroken and plagued by guilt for shooting his friend. When Tyler reawakens and learns how he was shot, he tells Jim he never wants to see him again, but confesses to Nicky that he is not mad at Jim and that he plans to leave him all he owns. Although he is not fully healed, Tyler goes on a last outing with Red, who believes they are out to revenge themselves on Jim. Jim encounters their boat, but finds that Tyler has deceived Red and locked him in his cabin. Near death, Tyler blows the boat's whistle, causing an avalanche, and steers the boat into the cliffs, crashing it underneath the avalanche, which kills them. Turlon's newspaper reports that Tyler's death "ennobled his life," and that he made fishing safe for all.
A. E. Freudeman
John H. Morse
Dale Van Every
Louise Platt, 1915-2003
She was born on August 3, 1915 in Stanford, Connecticut. Her father was a Navy doctor who relocated to Annapolis, Maryland when she was a toddler. An early interest in school dramatics eventually led her to theater as a profession, and she made her Broadway debut in 1936 in a Philip Barry play, Spring Dance.
Platt made the move to Hollywood two years later, and although her film career was short (1938-1942), her keen intelligence in a variety of parts left a very pleasant impression on the silver screen. She was an effective romantic lead opposite Henry Fonda in Henry Hathaway's Spawn of the North (1938); held her own in a star-studded cast that included John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell and Claire Trevor, in John Ford's brilliant Stagecoach (1939); displayed a deft comic touch alongside Melvyn Douglas in Leslie Fenton's minor mystery gem Tell No Tales (1939); led a battleship into war (really) in Richard Wallace's cultish adventure yarn Captain Caution (1940); and showed some striking allure as a femme fatale in Jack Hively's noirish thriller Street of Chance (1942).
Despite her uniformly excellent performances in these films, Platt returned to Broadway, where her star shone brightly in the '40s when she landed the leads in such plays as Johnny Belinda and Anne of a Thousand Days. Platt would make some guest appearances on a few television shows in the '50s, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Naked City, and a regular role in the popular soap opera The Guiding Light, before returning to the stage for the remainder of her career. She is survived by two daughters and several grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Louise Platt, 1915-2003
Yeah, here's to the salmon. She lays two million eggs and nobody ever calls her mother.- Jackson
Florence Barrett Willoughby's novel was serialized in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Sep 1935-January 1936). Information in the Paramount story files at the AMPAS library reveals that Willoughby's novel was previously considered as material for a film, but was rejected due to its similarity to RKO's The Silver Horde. Early scripts were authored by Robert M. Yost and Stuart Anthony. Also included in the files are a story authored by Kurt Siodmak and a screen story written by Thames Williamson. Their contribution to the final film has not been determined. Early scripts cast Georges Rigaud in the lead, however, according to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, he was replaced by Henry Fonda after shooting began because his French accent was too strong for the role. In addition, in other scripts, Fred MacMurray was cast as "Jim," and Frances Farmer as "Dian." Hollywood Reporter news items reported the following: Randolph Scott was cast in a lead role, but left due to a commitment to another film. Maine sailor Captain Simray Graves was brought to Hollywood to appear in the film, Porter Hall was testing for a role in the film, and Beulah Bondi and Polly Moran were cast, however, they did not appear in the released film. As early as 1936, director Henry Hathaway was preparing the film, which was originally to be shot in color. According to a later news item in Hollywood Reporter, Paramount sent a camera crew headed by Richard Talmadge to Ketchikan, Alaska to film the opening scenes of a salmon run. In a contemporary educational supplement to the film, Hathaway stated that the expedition to Alaska lasted fourteen weeks and resulted in 80,000 ft. of film shot.
Paramount constructed a steel and concrete tank on the studio lot which held 375,000 gallons of water, in which fishing boats and power cruisers were launched for close range shots. In addition, some scenes were filmed on location at Lake Arrowhead, Lake Tahoe, Balboa Island and the coast of Southern California where a fishing village was built. A news item in Motion Picture Herald mentioned that two women were injured in the crush of the crowd awaiting the preview in Westwood, CA. In 1938, the following were given Academy Awards for outstanding achievement in creating special photographic and sound effects: Gordon Jennings for special effects, assisted by January Domela, Dev Jennings, Irmin Roberts and Art Smith; transparencies by Farciot Edouart, assisted by Loyal Griggs; sound effects by Loren Ryder, assisted by Harry Mills, Louis H. Mesenkop and Walter Oberst.
Variety commented, "Merit of the film is in the persuasive and authentic photographic record of Alaskan life and customs. Highly interesting views of Indian ritual are shown as a new spawning season begins." In 1954, Paramount released Alaska Seas, a remake of Spawn of the North, directed by Jerry Hopper and starring Robert Ryan, January Sterling and Brian Keith.