Cast & Crew
In 1900, Nome, Alaska, gold miners Flapjack Sims and Banty protest to saloon owner Cherry Malotte that their claim has been stolen by crooked businessmen Bennett and Clark. She tells them not to take the law into their own hands, as Alexander McNamara, the new gold commissioner, has just arrived in town. Unknown to Cherry, McNamara is part of the claim-jumping scheme, as is Judge Horace Stillman and his beautiful niece, Helen Chester. Later, Roy Glennister, co-owner of the Midas gold mine and the love of Cherry's life, returns to Nome after a holiday abroad, amidst rumors that his romantic interest has wandered to Helen. Roy, however, goes to see Cherry in her parlor and tells her that he is "not the bended knees type." After making up with Cherry, Brad encounters McNamara at a poker table, where some of the other miners boldly accuse the commissioner of claim jumping. A fight begins, and Roy takes sides with the outnumbered McNamara. A few days later, though, Jonathan Struve, a stooge of McNamara, attempts to serve Roy and his partner, Al Dextry, with a legal notice, claiming that their mine is the property of another miner. While they initially dismiss the action, Helen arrives and warns Roy that the notice is legal, as it has been signed by her uncle. A few days later, McNamara and his men arrive at the Midas mine, intent on taking it over, but they are met with armed resistance. Judge Stillman then arrives and informs Roy and Dextry that, because of the disputed claims, the mine must be put into a receivership until a hearing can be held. Trusting the Stillmans, Roy agrees to the hearing, but his older and wiser partner refuses, causing the two longtime friends to end their partnership. Later, Stillman holds his hearings, and while he reinstates Flapjack's claim, he refuses to restore the Midas mine to Roy and Dextry. Realizing that he has been deceived, Roy begs his friend's forgiveness, then makes arrangements with Dextry to appeal the decision. Meanwhile, McNamara and Stillman congratulate themselves on their scheme, by which they estimate they can steal $250,000 out of the Midas mine before the appeal. Helen, however, is having second thoughts, as she has fallen in love with Roy. With their legal options blocked, Roy, Dextry and their men break into the bank and steal back their money. In the midst of the robbery, however, Bronco Kid, Cherry's troubleshooter and rejected suitor, attempts to murder Roy, but accidentally kills the sheriff instead. After Roy is arrested for the murder, McNamara makes plans to kill him during a phony jailbreak. Helen, however, warns Cherry of McNamara's plans. With Cherry's help, Roy breaks out of jail, then uses a train to demolish the blockage around his mine. Back in town, McNamara and the Stillman learn of the insurrection from Struve, and the gang makes immediate plans to leave town. McNamara, however, decides to go first to the saloon and collect Cherry. Roy then arrives in town, and after killing Struve, heads for the saloon to confront McNamara. The two men fight and Roy is victorious. As he is about to kill the crooked gold commissioner, Roy is stopped by Dextry, who tells him to leave McNamara in the hands of "the law." Exhausted, Roy agrees and collapses, with Cherry by his side.
Samuel S. Hinds
Bernard B. Brown
Charles K. Feldman
John P. Fulton
R. A. Gausman
John B. Goodman
Edward R. Robinson
H. J. Salter
Best Art Direction
The Spoilers (1942)
The climactic fight sequence of The Spoilers, which lasts six minutes, required the services of over 30 experienced stuntmen and acrobats. It took over ten days to film the brawl which used every type of breakaway furniture imaginable and had stuntmen crashing into mirrors, sailing over balconies, slamming against walls, and breaking down doors. Needless to say, the bar where the fight begins is completely trashed by the end of the slugfest. John Wayne was particularly proud of the fact that he performed some of the stunts himself and always gave this sage advice to younger actors, "Learn to fight. Learn to hit and learn to roll with a punch. Learn to handle your body easily and smoothly. You have to make it look good. Above all, it has to be convincing."
The Duke's co-star, Randolph Scott, was rarely cast in a villainous role in Westerns but he makes an effective one here and is a formidable opponent for Wayne's character. During filming, it was reported that Scott and Wayne didn't get along, mostly due to creative differences. Scott took a more artistic approach to acting than Wayne who had a very unpretentious approach to his craft. Wayne had no trouble warming to co-star Dietrich, however, and their off-screen affair was well known in Hollywood circles. According to Ronald L. Davis, the author of Duke: The Life and Image of John Wayne, the rugged cowboy star "spent evenings at Dietrich's house, confiding his marital problems to the sympathetic actress. He was restless and bored with Josephine and spent as little time at home as possible. He confessed to Marlene that his sex life with Josie was minimal. "Four times in ten years," Duke snorted, explaining his four children. Dietrich had introduced him to more exotic sex; she made him feel like a man in bed and admired him physically. Although the dignified Josephine seemed cold by comparison, Duke continued to praise his wife as "wonderful, religious woman" and an ideal mother."
Director: Ray Enright
Producer: Frank Lloyd, Lee Marcus (associate)
Screenplay: Lawrence Hazard, Tom Reed, Rex Beach (novel)
Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner
Music: Hans J. Salter
Art Direction: John B. Goodman, Jack Otterson
Cast: Marlene Dietrich (Cherry Malotte), Randolph Scott (Alexander McNamara), John Wayne (Roy Glennister), Margaret Lindsay (Helen Chester), Harry Carey (Al Dextry), Richard Barthelmess (Bronco Kid Farrell), George Cleveland (Banty).
by Jeff Stafford
The Spoilers (1942)
I imagine that dress is supposed to have a chilling effect. Well if it is, it isn't working, 'cuz you'd look good to me, baby, in a burlap bag.- Glennister
The film's title card reads: "Rex Beach's The Spoilers." The film begins with the following written foreword: "During the Alaskan gold rush, claim-jumping and mine-stealing became an everyday occurrence-lawlessness was rampant. This is the story of the frozen North when it not only wasn't frozen-but came gloriously close to being a hot spot. Nome 1900." According to information found in the Charles K. Feldman papers at the AFI Louis B. Mayer Library, producer-agent Feldman made an agreement with Jess Smith in July 1941 to purchase film rights to the Rex Beach novel for $17,500. On November 29, 1941, Feldman sold the rights to Frank Lloyd Productions, Inc. for $50,000, along with 25% of film's net profits, to be paid directly to Feldman by Universal, under a production agreement between Lloyd and the studio.
According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA had major complaints about the sexual content of the original script for The Spoilers, in particular, references to pre-marital sex between "Roy" and "Cherry." On January 9, 1942, Lloyd and associate producer Lee Marcus met with the PCA and worked out the problems so that production could begin as planned a few days later. According to the Feldman papers, Tom Reed was paid $350 for one week of work on the screenplay, for which he received a co-writing credit. Universal borrowed director Ray Enright from Warner Bros. for the production. The shooting schedule was altered so that actress Margaret Lindsay could appear in the Columbia film, A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (see entry above). Hollywood Reporter news items state that, in February 1942, some scenes for the film were shot in Sunland, CA, under the second unit direction of producer Lloyd. According to Universal press materials, fifteen cameras were used to shoot the climactic fight sequence between Wayne and Randolph Scott, including one camera that was placed on a seven-ton crane. Press materials also state that the fight, which came directly from the Beach novel, was inspired by a 1901 fight the writer had witnessed himself in Nome between claim jumper Alexander MacKenzie and a Swedish miner named Chris Swanson.
Actor William Farnum, who had starred in a 1914 silent version of The Spoilers, appeared in this film as "Wheaton," a lawyer. Wayne and Dietrich had previously appeared together in the 1940 Universal film Seven Sinners (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3971). Wayne, Dietrich and co-star Randolph Scott worked together again on another 1942 Universal release, Pittsburgh (see entry above). Art directors John B. Goodman and Jack Otterson and set decorators Russell A. Gausman and Edward R. Robinson received Academy Award nominations for The Spoilers, but lost to Richard Day, Joseph Wright and Thomas Little for their work on the Twentieth Century-Fox release This Above All . The Feldman papers state that the final negative cost of The Spoilers was $723,455, and the film had world-wide gross of $2,060,000.
The Feldman papers also note that Universal offered to pay Feldman $19,024 in 1949 to re-issue the film, but he rejected the offer, having learned that the studio had already made an agreement with Harris-Broder Pictures to re-issue the film, which would have drastically reduced his residuals. Feldman also discovered that Universal was making plans to film yet another version of the Beach novel. In April 1954, Feldman accepted $8,333 from Universal in lieu of any claims the producer-agent might have over future screen rights to Beach's novel. In November 1952, Feldman rejected Universal's offer to sell him all film rights to The Spoilers for $150,000.
As noted above, the Beach novel had previously been filmed in 1914 by Selig Polyscope Co., starring William Farnum and Kathlyn Williams and directed by Colin Campbell (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.4216). In 1923, Lambert Hillyer directed a Jesse D. Hampton version, starring Milton Sills and Anna Q. Nilsson (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5334). A 1930 Paramount version starred Gary Cooper and Kay Johnson and was directed by Edwin Carewe (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5335). In 1955, Universal filmed the novel once more, starring Anne Baxter and Jeff Chandler and directed by Jesse Hibbs.
Released in United States 1942
Based on the novel "The Spoilers" written by Rex Beach and published in 1906.
Released in United States 1942