B&W : Nine reels / 7170 feet
Directed by Allan Dwan
Cast: Lenore Ulric [Talu], Robert Frazer [Lanak], Louis Wolheim [Duke], Ullrich Haupt (Ulrich Haupt) [Captain Jones], Laska Winter [Douglamana], El Brendel [‘Swede’], Tom Patricola [‘Dancer’], Alice Lake [‘Little Casino’], Gertrude Astor [‘Moosehide’ Kate], Adele Windsor [the Boston school ma’m], Neyneen Farrell [‘Yukon’ Lucy], Warren Hymer [the bartender], Lou Morrison (Louis Morrison) [the proprietor], Charles Judels [the French sailor], Joe Rochay [the Jewish character], the Meyers Sisters [the harmony duo], George MacFarlane [the singer], Landers Stevens [Mate Moore], James Spencer [the medicine man], Arthur Stone [‘French’ Pete], Jack Ackroyd [‘English’ Eddie], Gertrude Chorre [Talu’s mother]
Fox Film Corporation production; distributed by Fox Film Corporation. / Scenario by Sonya Levien, with dialogue by Owen Davis, from the novel Norden for lov og ret by Ejner Mikkelsen. Songs “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” by Harry von Tilzer (music) and Arthur J. Lamb (lyrics); “Goodbye Dolly Gray” by Will D. Cobb and Paul Barnes (music and lyrics); “The Picture That is Turned Toward the Wall” by Charles Graham (music and lyrics); “The Right Kind of Man” by Abel Baes (music) and L. Wolfe Gilbert (lyrics). Music score by Arthur Kay. Property master, Don B. Greenwood. Staged by Elliott Lester. Assistant director, William Tummel. Cinematography by Harold Rosson. Second unit cinematography directed by Charles G. Clarke. Sound engineer, Edmund H. Hansen. Edited by Harold Schuster (Harold D. Schuster). Presented by William Fox. / © 4 September 1929 by Fox Film Corporation [LP655]. Released 13 October 1929. / [?] Movietone 35mm spherical 1.20:1 format and/or Standard 35mm spherical 1.37:1 format? Western Electric Movietone sound-on-film sound system. / The film was also released in the USA in a silent version (at 6129 feet) by Fox Film Corporation. / Full-sound film.
Reviews: [Mordaunt Hall in The New York Times, 26 October 1929, page ?] Lenore Ulric, the purring siren of David Belasco’s production, “Mima,” and the leading light of other plays, including “Kiki,” “The Harem” and “Lulu Belle,” makes the talking-film bow at the Roxy in a orderly staged melodrama with a background of Nuwuk and Nome in the days of the Klondike gold rush. / Besides Miss Ulric there are capital performances by Ullrich Haupt and the redoubtable Louis Wolheim. The story itself is not blessed with a high degree of drama, but it has a number of imaginative moments that have been adroitly directed by Allan Dwan. / Miss Ulric plays a half-caste, whose father was American and her mother an Eskimo. When with her Eskimo spouse, named Lanak, she is wild to get to the land of the white man and when she is in Nome she longs to return to her own igloo. / This velvet-eyed wanton, known as Talu, is at first seen with her Eskimo companions, garbed in furs. Her costume is richer than any of the others and it is not long before her love of white women’s finery is stressed. She steals away from Lanak, and boards Captain Jones’s steamship. Jones, who is played by Mr. Haupt, who has a foreign accent, tempts Talu with gowns and soon Talu is perceived in a colorful frock. / Duke, the first mate of the vessel, bemoans the captain’s love of women. But his advice falls upon deaf ears and subsequently, when the ship is smashed to bits by the ice, Jones and Duke flee from Nuwuk in a sled, into which they throw Talu at the last moment. This happens after a parting shot has been fired at Lanak. / The scene then changes to a livelier one, that of a gambling and dance hall in Nome. The women are clad in the old fashioned style. They pick the pockets of their dancing escorts, but they speak with bated breath about one of their number being caught smoking a cigarette. / Mr. Dwan has introduced some effective comedy in the dance hall. In one sequence a woman sings a song of “The Picture That Was Turned to the Wall,” which inspires a French adventurer to warble a “Bird in a Gilded Cage.” The effort so moves him that he bursts into tears. When he fails in the words he whistles, which provoked laughter among an audience yesterday afternoon. / Talu becomes one of the dancing women. She is a fiery wench, who because she is a half-caste is heartily disliked by the other females. / In the closing scenes Talu and Captain Jones are perceived once again dashing away in a dog sled from the angry Lanak, who has finally found his faithless wife. Jones has put a bullet through Duke and he hopes to escape Lanak’s vengeance, but as the dogs run over the hard snow and ice they come to a break that widens into a canyon into which the sled and its occupants are hurled. This, like many of the other passages is expertly filmed. The backgrounds are for the most part impressive. / Miss Ulric is splendid and she does not betray the slightest sign of microphone nervousness. Her half-caste accent leaves her after a spell in Nome, which is to be expected. The dialogue, written by Owen Davis, is sometimes a little forced in Miss Ulric’s and some of the other rôles. Miss Ulric’s acting, however, is compelling and her resourcefulness during silent passages is frequently in evidence.
Survival status: The film is presumed lost.
Current rights holder: (unknown)
Keywords: Synchronized sound film
Listing updated: 13 October 2010.
References: Bogdanovich-Dwan pp. 86, 88-89; Vermilye-Twenties p. 82 : Website-AFI; Website-IMDb.