Cast & Crew
Corp. Rod Webb of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police paddles his canoe to a small cabin in the wilderness. Inside the cabin he discovers that its occupant, Tad Farrar, has been hanged to death. Although Rod finds a suicide note, he suspects that Tad was murdered because his breakfast is still cooking. Rod picks up a bracelet engraved with the name Meg, and rows to a nearby village to consult with his friend, Constable Ralph Gregg. Ralph tells him that the bracelet belongs to Tad's fiancée, Meg Stevens. Although Ralph has jurisdiction over the area, he agrees to allow Rod to investigate. Rod first goes to see Meg and report the news of Tad's death. Rod's presence unnerves Meg's brother Frank, who hates police. The two men argue and Frank throws his drink at Rod, then, after a brief struggle, throws a knife. The altercation ends when Rod's loyal white German Shepherd dog, Chinook, leaps through a window and knocks Frank to the floor. Rod allows Frank to leave, and while Meg tends to the minor knife wound in his hand, the policeman learns that Tad recently spoke of a "lucky break." While they are talking, Frank meets with his friends, gambler Jason and the female gunfighter known as the Quebec Kid, to warn them that Rod is investigating Tad's death. Upon learning about Frank's suspicious behavior, Ralph suggests that Rod question Jason and the Kid. When Rod goes to question the Kid, she unsuccessfully attempts to seduce him. After leaving the Kid, Rod finds Jason in the saloon, but the gambler remains tight-lipped. Oweena, an Indian woman working at the bar, quietly arranges to meet Rod later at Tad's cabin. After Jason and Frank fire at Rod as he walks through the village, the Kid warns them that Rod's death would only draw more attention from the police. However, Frank ignores her until she pushes the barrel of his gun and spoils his shot. They then flee, and Ralph and Rod find only a shell casing where the shooters had been standing. Meg prays by Tad's graveside, and is then startled to discover Oweena waiting for Rod in Tad's cabin. Oweena admits to Meg that she secretly loved Tad. Once she and Rod are alone, Oweena tells him that Tad was murdered because he knew the location of a secret burial ground containing Indian riches, as told to him by her grandfather, Dancing Horse. Oweena believes that Tad revealed his secret to Meg, who later told Frank. Frank then killed Tad while trying to extract the location from him. Unknown to Oweena, the outlaws have kidnapped her grandfather and are beating him to force him to reveal the location of the Valley of the Dead, but Dancing Horse refuses to comply. Outside the cabin in which they are holding Dancing Horse, the Kid fires her gun to warn her friends that Rod is approaching, thereby giving Frank time to escape with Dancing Horse. Jason allows Rod to search the cabin, and the Mountie finds the weapon used against him in town. When Rod attempts to arrest Jason, the gambler knocks him out and flees, after which Rod is revived by Chinook. In the hills, Dancing Horse is wounded when he attempts to escape from Frank. The outlaws follow him as he staggers away, because they believe he will lead them to the Valley of the Dead. Chinook picks up their trail until Rod orders him to find Ralph and bring him back. With the help of Chinook, Ralph and Oweena arrive to discover that Rod was shot and wounded by Frank. Later, when Frank returns to his cabin for supplies, Meg confronts her brother with a gun, demanding he tell her the truth about Tad's death. Frank grabs the weapon and Meg is killed in the ensuing struggle. The Kid then enters the cabin and learns that Jason and Frank have shot Rod and have been excluding her from their search for the burial ground. Frank pistol-whips the Kid and while she lays unconscious, frames her for Meg's murder. Before returning to help Jason, Frank stops to finish off Rod, but mistakenly wounds Ralph because he wears the same uniform. Rod overcomes his injuries to tend to his friend, then goes to Meg's cabin, where the Kid awakens and admits her involvement in the grave-robbing plan. She explains that Frank was trying to scare Tad and accidentally killed him, but vows she is innocent of both Tad's and Meg's murders. Rod leaves Oweena guarding the Kid, but the outlaw overpowers her and forces Oweena to guide her to the Valley of the Dead. As Rod reaches the Valley of the Dead, the outlaws hear Chinook bark and capture Rod, then force him to help them steal from the graves. While Dancing Horse rests under a tree, Jason discovers that the riches that he has stolen have no monetary value. Rather than kill Rod immediately, Jason ties his hands and allows Frank to beat him. They are unaware that Oweena and the Kid have reached a nearby precipice until Oweena avenges Tad's death by pushing the Kid over the edge. While Rod attacks Jason, Chinook attacks Frank. Rod and Chinook overpower the outlaws and, leaving Chinook to guard the men, Rod comforts the Kid as she dies. Some time later, Rod leaves the village after arranging for Ralph to assist Oweena so she may nurse her grandfather back to health.
Dale Van Sickel
Leonard W. Herman
Edward J. Kay
The working title of this film was Big Wilderness. The opening title cards read: "Allied Artists Productions, Inc. presents James Oliver Curwood's Northern Patrol starring Kirby Grant and Chinook." According to a May 15, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, Jean Willis was initially cast in the role of "Quebec Kid," but withdrew due to illness. For additional information on other films in the "Chinook" series, consult the Series Index and see the entry for Trail of the Yukon in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50. Other films based on James Oliver Curwood's novel are Nomads of the North, a 1920 Curwood production directed by David M. Hartford (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20), and Nikki, Wild Dog of the North, a 1961 Disney production directed by Jack Couffer and Donald Haldane (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70).