Cast & Crew
The impulsive and volatile Zeb Kennedy arrives in his hometown of Seattle at the end of World War II and asks to resume his job at the Wendt Packing Co. Worried about his daughter Dorothy's abiding affection for this "troublemaker," however, his wealthy former boss, Einer Wendt, sends him away, whereupon Zeb signs up for a stint in an Alaskan cannery. Zeb loses that job after defending a mistreated Chinese worker named Wang, whom he had befriended during the boat trip to Alaska. He then meets Thor Storm, who offers him work on his salmon fishing boat, the Bridie B . During the voyage, the two men become friends, even though Thor, an idealist whose father was a missionary, seems an unlikely comrade for the bitter Zeb, whose ills can only be cured, he states, by money. Back in Thor's home port of Baranof, Zeb proposes that he and Thor open a cannery, but Bridie Ballantyne, Thor's part-Irish, part-Scottish fiancée, seems skeptical of the plan. While Thor sleeps off a large quantity of whiskey one night, Bridie admits to Zeb that what she actually fears is her intense attraction to him. Zeb is drawn to Bridie, too, and kisses her passionately, but because they do not want to hurt Thor, Zeb returns to Seattle to seek financial backing for the proposed cannery. There he learns from his old friend, Dave Husack, that Dorothy still loves him, and because he needs money, he marries her. The couple then returns to Baranof, but Bridie's distress at meeting Zeb's bride prompts Thor to question her. Horrified to learn of the mutual love between Zeb and Bridie, Thor punches his friend and flees Baranof in a dog sled. When he passes out in the snow far from town, an Eskimo family takes him in. Meanwhile, Zeb establishes a packing company in Baranof, hiring Dave as his foreman and Wang as his house servant. Dorothy, now realizing that it is Bridie her husband loves, grows increasingly bitter despite the added wealth the cannery has brought her. Bridie delivers Dorothy's baby daughter because the doctor is away, but the experience is painful for both women, and Bridie decides to pursue a new life in Seattle. Before she leaves, however, she discovers that Thor has returned to Baranof with a baby son named Christopher. Because Thor's Eskimo wife died soon after the baby's birth, Bridie remains in Baranof to look after the child. Seven years later, little Grace Kennedy spends much of her time with Christopher and "Aunt Bridie" because her parents fight constantly. Zeb, too, seeks solace in Bridie's love, but she refuses to be his mistress despite her continuing love for him. Distressed at Zeb's salmon traps, which not only deprive the fishermen of their livelihoods but threaten to deplete salmon supplies, Thor asks him to discontinue their use, but Zeb angrily refuses. Moreover, when Zeb sees Grace with Christopher, he orders Thor to "keep that half-breed kid of yours away from her!" This so enrages Thor that he decides to organize both the fishermen and the Alaskan natives against Zeb. By the time Christopher and Grace have reached adulthood, Thor has become a candidate for the territorial legislature, calling for Alaskan statehood and railing against "Czar Kennedy." Unknown to their feuding fathers, Christopher and Grace have fallen in love, and when they secretly elope, Dorothy, after accusing Zeb of having neglected his daughter, suffers a heart attack and dies. The young couple lives happily with Christopher's maternal grandparents in the Eskimo village of Anavak, but Christopher insists that Grace have their baby in Baranof, and they begin the long journey by dogsled. When Thor learns that the two are missing, he, Zeb and Bridie launch a search. As Christopher is about to warm Grace, who has gone into labor, with the carcass of a freshly killed caribou, a bear appears and kills him. Thor, Zeb and Bridie find them and shoot the animal, but their arrival is too late for Grace, and she dies giving birth to a baby girl. The child, named Christine, lives with Bridie for sixteen years, at which time she begins to stay with each of her still-feuding grandfathers for three-month stretches. When Zeb admits relief that his blonde granddaughter can pass for white, she angrily declares that prejudice is a cover-up for one's own inferiority. Thor, still fighting for Alaskan statehood, almost comes to blows with Zeb during congressional hearings, but later, Dave's son Bay, a lawyer, suggests that Zeb cultivate his own political allies for the inevitable day on which statehood is granted. Zeb suggests that Bay run against Thor, observing that the young man's marriage to Christine would downplay his connections to Zeb. Bay does propose to Christine, but during their engagement party, Bridie discovers Zeb's scheme and accuses him of having sold out everyone who was ever close to him. Shocked and hurt, Christine breaks off her engagement to Bay. Soon after, Ross Guildenstern, an Eskimo American who loves Christine, flies Thor to Juneau during a snowstorm and is forced to make a crash landing on a glacier. Bridie begs Zeb, an accomplished bush pilot, to rescue the men, and when he refuses, she leaves in disgust. Deeply affected by her anger, Zeb risks his life to save Ross and Thor. Thor goes on to Washington, where his passionate speeches prompt Congress to approve Alaska's statehood. Thor then gives a radio address, in which he thanks Zeb and urges the state's citizens to make Alaska "a shining demonstration of this faith in each other."
I. Stanford Jolley
Robert "buddy" Shaw
S. John Launer
Alan Roberts Costello
Ted Du Domaine
J. B. Allim
Mark H. Davis
George James Hopkins
According to a December 12, 1957 Daily Variety news item, Warner Bros. acquired Edna Ferber's novel on a fifteen-year lease for $350,000, plus fifteen percent of the net profits. The novel, which noted that the town of Baranof is fictional, was serialized in the Ladies Home Journal (5 April-9 June 1958). The film opens with a printed quotation from the Robert W. Service poem "Alaska": "Wild and wide are my borders,/stern as death is my sway,/And I wait for the men who will win me/and I will not be won in a day:/And I will not be won by weaklings,/subtle, suave and mild,/But by men with the hearts of Vikings,/and the simple faith of a child."
Although a July 21, 1958 Los Angeles Mirror-News article stated that Art and Jo Napoleon, a husband and wife "writing and producing combo" were "preparing the film version" of Edna Ferber's novel, a June 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that they had left the project months earlier due to a difference in script interpretation. According to a July 24, 1959 Daily Variety news item, Margaret O'Brien was a contender for a starring role in the picture, but she did not appear in the released film. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts include Eric Sherman in the cast and Hollywood Reporter news items add Don Turner and Al Page, their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. Contemporary sources note that location shooting was done in Petersburg, a salmon fishing center on Mitkof Island, Juneau and Fairbanks, AK. In 1959, Alaska became the forty-ninth state admitted to the Union.
Released in United States Summer July 1960
Released in United States Summer July 1960