North West Mounted Police (1940): DeMille’s Color Adventure Starring Cooper

Cecil B. DeMille’s first film in Technicolor, North West Mounted Police, is based on the 1938 novel “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” by R. C. Fetherstonhaugh.

The highly acclaimed adventure stars Gary Cooper in one of his best roles, and also benefiting from a strong supporting cast, including Madeleine Carroll, Paulette Goddard, Preston Foster, Robert Preston, Akim Tamiroff, and Lon Chaney, Jr..

Written by Alan Le May, Jesse Lasky, Jr., and C. Gardner Sullivan, the film was nominated for five Oscars and received one Academy Award for Best Film Editing (Anne Bauchens).

Texas Ranger Dusty Rivers (Gary Cooper) is sent to Canada during the 1880s in pursuit of outlaw Jacques Corbeau (George Bancroft), arriving in the midst of the Riel Rebellion.

Upon meeting nurse April Logan (Madeleine Carroll) he falls in love with her, though she is already involved with Canadian Mountie Sergeant Jim Britt (Preston Foster).

April’s brother, Ronnie Logan (Robert Preston), who also is a Mountie, is in love with Corbeau’s daughter, Louvette (Paulette Goddard). Louvette loves Ronnie and is determined to protect Ronnie in the coming fight at all costs, using Ronnie’s feelings for her father’s benefit at times.

When the showdown between Dusty, the Mounties, and the supporters of Corbeau occurs, Louvette tricks Ronnie. Ronnie is unable to warn his fellow Mounties and Rivers that they are riding into a trap.

The lawmen are ambushed and think Ronnie is a deserter. Dusty Rivers helps to turn the battle and Sergeant Jim arrests Corbeau. Rivers tracks down Ronnie at Louvette’s hideout and convinces him to turn himself in.  However, he is killed in a case of mistaken identity.  Before Dusty Rivers returns to Texas, he gives April and Jim his blessing.

DeMille narrated portions of the story, a strategy he would use in all of his Technicolor films.

Oscar Nominations: 5

Cinematography (Color): Victor Milner and w. Howard Greene

Interior Decoration (Color): Hans Dreier and Roland Anderson

Film Editing: Anne Bauchens

Sound Recording: Loren Ryder

Original Score: Victor Young

Oscar Awards: 1

Editing

 

Cast

Gary Cooper as Texas Ranger Dusty Rivers

Madeleine Carroll as April Logan

Paulette Goddard as Louvette Corbeau

Preston Foster as Sergeant Jim Brett

Robert Preston as Ronnie Logan

George Bancroft as Jacques Corbeau

Lynne Overman as Tod McDuff

Akim Tamiroff as Dan Duroc

Walter Hampden as Big Bear

Lon Chaney as Shorty