The Trail of '98

Overview

The strange and terrible things that the lust for gold can do to the soul comprise the message of this innovative, epic account of the Alaskan gold rush. Unlike Chaplin's version of the same era story, which combined hardship with comedy and culminated with a happy ending, Clarence Brown's film is disturbing. Though he follows the lives of many prospectors throughout the movie, one story receives extra attention. It is that of a gold miner who finally strikes it rich, suffers terribly to return to his true love ...
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Overview

The strange and terrible things that the lust for gold can do to the soul comprise the message of this innovative, epic account of the Alaskan gold rush. Unlike Chaplin's version of the same era story, which combined hardship with comedy and culminated with a happy ending, Clarence Brown's film is disturbing. Though he follows the lives of many prospectors throughout the movie, one story receives extra attention. It is that of a gold miner who finally strikes it rich, suffers terribly to return to his true love and discovers that she has become a tawdry dance-hall girl working for a known murderer. Enraged, the prospector gets into a terrible battle that culminates in a tragic scene -- perhaps designed to make us realize how insignificant we are in the face of nature's ruthless grandeur.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Hans J. Wollstein
The last of the great silent epics, M-G-M's The Trail of '98 comes complete with a music score, sound effects and a theme song, "I Found Gold When I Found You," by Hazel Mooney, Evelyn Lyn and William Axt. Based on Robert William Service's 1911 novel, the sprawling epic remains a stirring drama about greed, love and redemption. Filming on location in Alaska and at Denver, Colorado, director Clarence Brown used a broad pencil this time and apparently didn't spare neither his actors nor the scores of stunt people employed to make the dangerous trek to the Klondike truly memorable. The famous scene of the long, arduous climb to the Chilkoot Pass is indeed the film's centerpiece -- the strain of it all is plainly visible in the faces of the extra's -- but it is closely followed by the harrowing journey down the Whitehorse Rapids. The latter scenes, filmed on Alaska's Copper River, reportedly cost the lives of no less than four stunt players, including Ray Thompson, who had so memorably played the ranch foreman in Buster Keaton's Go West (1925). But director Brown did not let the forces of nature completely dwarf the human elements and Trail of '98 is brimming with memorable performances, including Karl Dane as a carefree Scandinavian type fleeing a shrewish wife; Harry Carey, cast against type as the villain of the piece; George Cooper as Dane's lazy partner; and Doris Lloyd as a soft-hearted Klondike floozy. Only Dolores Del Rio and Ralph Graves, the romantic leads, seem somewhat out of place in the wilderness.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/23/2009
  • UPC: 883316149133
  • Original Release: 1928
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:30:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 20,141

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dolores Del Rio Berna
Ralph Forbes Larry
Harry Carey Jack Locosto
Karl Dane Lars Peterson
Tully Marshall Salvation Jim
Russell Simpson Old Swede
Emily Fitzroy Mrs. Bulkey
Tenen Holtz Mr. Bulkey
Cesare Gravina Berna's Grandfather
George Cooper Samuel Foote
John Down Mother's Boy
Ray Gallagher
Ray Hallor
Doris Lloyd
E. Alyn Warren Engineer
Technical Credits
Clarence Brown Director
Dr. William Axt Score Composer
Charles Dorian Asst. Director
Cedric Gibbons Production Designer
Benjamin Glazer Screenwriter
George Hively Editor
David Mendoza Score Composer
Merrill Pye Production Designer
John F. Seitz Cinematographer
Waldemar Young Screenwriter
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