There's No Place Like Nome
Nome 1900 and the place is bustling with gold miners who all frequent Cherry Malotte's (Marlene Dietrich) saloon and often come to her with their problems. One of those seems to be a case of claim jumping which Cherry suspects that gold commissioner Alex McNamara (Randolph Scott) and Judge Stillman (Samuel S. Hinds) seem to be behind. But Cherry has another issue as her beau Roy Glennister (John Wayne) returns home with Helen Chester (Margaret Lindsay), the judge's niece much to Cherry's jealousy. When Roy sides with McNamara over a case of claim jumping it causes issues between himself and his own partner Al Dextry (Harry Carey) especially when Roy learns he has been deceived and heading to jail when he is wrongly accused of a murder.
Up until now the only version of "The Spoilers" I had watched was the 1955 version and was impressed by it thanks to the story which was multi-layered. It is again the power of the story, as in Rex Beach's novel, which makes the movie as all those elements of jealousy, greed, romance and betrayal which draw you in are still present and the back bone of the movie. And all these elements from Roy being duped and then cheated by McNamara to the way law is settled features all those western elements which audience wants so we have bar room brawls and gunfights in the streets as well as some humour such as when Dextry warns off an official with his elephant gun.
But it isn't just the story which makes this 1942 version of "The Spoilers" it is also the sets and locations which are quite simply fantastic. From the thick muddy road which runs through the centre of town to Roy and Al's expansive claim it grabs you. It isn't that it looks epic but it does look authentic and cinematographer Milton R. Krasner has done a beautiful job of shooting it with a quality which still stands up in today's digital world but with the warmth you got from old film.
And of course there are the stars and "The Spoilers" clearly belongs to Marlene Dietrich who you get a sense was born to play a saloon owner with her big hair, glamorous outfits and general demeanour of confidence which mask her true feelings. But John Wayne, Randolph Scott and Harry Carey are just as good with Scott seeming to enjoy getting to play it as a slippery charmer.
What this all boils down to is that over 70 years later the 1942 version of "The Spoilers" is still a fantastic western with the perfect mix of look, characters, action and drama to keep you entertained from start to finish. But this movie whilst owing plenty to cinematographer Milton R. Krasner belongs to Marlene Dietrich who is fantastic through out.