North to Alaska
|North to Alaska|
1960 movie poster
|Directed by||Henry Hathaway
John Wayne (uncredited)
|Produced by||Henry Hathaway
John Lee Mahin
|Written by||screenplay by
John Lee Mahin
based on a play by
|Music by||Lionel Newman|
|Editing by||Dorothy Spencer|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release dates||November 13, 1960|
|Running time||120 min.|
|Box office||$5 million (US/ Canada rentals) |
North to Alaska is a 1960 comedic Western movie directed by Henry Hathaway and John Wayne (uncredited). The picture stars Wayne along with Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacs, Fabian, and Capucine. The script is based on the play Birthday Gift by Ladislas Fodor and set in Nome, 1900. The movie featured Johnny Horton's song of the same name, sung during the opening titles.
Finding that George's girl has already married another man, Sam brings back prostitute "Angel" (Capucine) as a substitute. There is a misunderstanding: she thinks Sam wants her for himself and becomes enamored with him on the boat trip to Alaska, during which he treats her like a respectable lady.
An angry George rejects the girl outright, though his younger brother Billy (Fabian) is definitely interested. Meanwhile, conman and saloon owner Frankie Cannon (Ernie Kovacs) tries to steal their gold claim.
In time, George takes a liking to Angel and is willing to marry her. But once he realizes that she has fallen for his partner, he does everything in his power to coax Sam into admitting that he, too, is in love.
Meanwhile, the men discovered Cannon's scam after he cons an illiterate drunk named Boggs, so they try to reclaim their right in the court. The story concludes with an all-out brawl in the town's muddy streets. Angel decides to leave but is convinced to stay once Sam yells out publicly: "Because I love you!"
- John Wayne as Sam McCord
- Stewart Granger as George Pratt
- Ernie Kovacs as Frankie Canon
- Fabian as Billy Pratt
- Capucine as Michelle "Angel"
- Mickey Shaughnessy as Peter Boggs
- Karl Swenson as Lars Nordquist
- Kathleen Freeman as Lena Nordquist
- John Qualen as Logger
- Stanley Adams as Breezy
- Stephen Courtleigh as Duggan
- Lilyan Chauvin as Jenny Lamont
- Douglas Dick as Lieutenant
North to Alaska was the first in a three-movie contract for Wayne with 20th Century Fox. Alaska having become the 49th State in 1959, the location was being publicized. The film's trailer notes that there are 50 states, with Hawaii (1959) being the 50th.
The movie's working title was Trail of the Yukon, the first choice of director by Wayne and Fox was Richard Fleischer. However, Fleischer attempted to end his involvement, disliking the script and fearing he would be blamed for a Wayne box office failure.  Spyros Skouras wanted the budget of the film reduced; that Hathaway did by reducing location shots.
Most of the movie was filmed in Point Mugu, California, not Alaska, although the landscape is evocative of old Nome and the gold fields northeast of there. The Wayne and Granger "honeymoon" cabin scenes were filmed along steaming Hot Creek near volcanic Mammoth Mountain. Mt. Morrison appears in the background of many views. This location was also used for True Grit (1969).
Fabian enjoyed working with John Wayne. "What you saw is what you got," recalled the singer. "He was incredible. He was very nice to me.”
Johnny Horton, who sang the title track, died in a car accident not long after the film was released.
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p. 253
- "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p. 229
- TCM, North to Alaska, retrieved 2011-11-04
- Fleischer, Richard Just Tell Me When to Cry 1993 Carroll and Graf.
- p. 236 Davis, Ronald L. Duke: The Life and Image of John Wayne, University of Oklahoma Press, 2002.
- Roberts, Randy & Olson, James Stewart. John Wayne: American, University of Nebraska Press, 1997, p. 481.
- Jack Neary, "Interview with Fabian" accessed 18 January 2014
- Western-Style Singer Johnny Horton Killed: Man Who Made 'Battle of New Orleans' Popular Dies in Texas Highway Crash Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 06 Nov 1960: E1.
- North to Alaska at the Internet Movie Database
- North to Alaska at allmovie
- North to Alaska at the TCM Movie Database