Rains Causes a Ford in the White Tower
"The White Tower" is a case of a good cast a reasonable premise but ultimately a remarkably dull movie. You see "The White Tower" is a mountain climbing movie, one where we follow a group of 6 climbers trying to scale the never conquered White Tower all having different deep reasons for taking on such a risky challenge. But it never really gets out of first gear as the excitement of the climb, the brushes with death and danger never really manifests itself or at least as well as you hope for. And the deeper reasons for these 6 people to climb ends up as padding, to fill in the large gaps between those moments of excitement. It's not terrible, but there are other better mountain climbing movies and as such "The White Tower" struggles to be average.
Having returned to the Swiss town at the foot of the White Tower, Carla Alton (Alida Valli) plans to climb the mountain to complete her father's dream who died whilst trying to conquer it. And 5 other visitors to the town decide to join her all with their own reasons to take on the dangerous climb, except for Martin Ordway (Glenn Ford - Superman) who seems to have agreed out of an attraction to the beautiful Carla. But as they climb the never been conquered mountain not only does it become hard work but each individual has to deal with their own issues.
The actual concept of "The White Tower" is a decent one as on one hand you should have the excitement of the climb and then on the other the personal conflicts not just between the climbers but also with themselves. But none of this really manifests itself and as such it does feel that it struggles to get out of first gear. It actually starts quite well as Carla Aton returns to the Swiss town at the foot of the White Tower and we get a brief introduction to the various strangers who group together to take on the perilous climb. We quickly learn about their deeper reasons from Carla wanting to conquer the White Tower because it was her father's dream through to Paul DeLambre who takes on the task because on the surface he is writing a book about the mountain but in reality is dissatisfied with his life and nagging wife. And we also meet Martin Ordway who has no reason to climb and doesn't plan to except he falls for the attractive Carla.
But then once the set up is out of the way and things move to the actual mountain it ends up all rather routine. We go from a scene of them climbing to a scene where one of the climbers deals with their issues. That wouldn't be too bad except neither elements are that interesting as the danger of the climb rarely really comes across whilst the climbers dealing with their personal issues ends up quite forced. It's not all bad as the conflict which forms between the amiable Martin and arrogant climber Mr. Hein does manifest some tension but beyond that there is little else. Even the underlying romantic subplot as Martin and Carla fall for each other doesn't add anything to really liven it up.
Part of the trouble is that whilst we have these 6 very different people all with different issues we never really feel like we know them. It's a case that there isn't enough character development prior to the climb and so when their issues arise we have no real feeling for them. And the knock on effect of this is that none of the stars from Claude Rains through to Lloyd Bridges manages to make their characters more than just 2 dimensional. Even Glenn Ford as the amiable Martin seems to be doing the minimum and using his charm to try and make the character work especially in those few romantic moments he shares with Alida Valli who plays the beautiful Carla Alton.
What this all boils down to is that whilst not a bad movie "The White Tower" is neither a good one and frankly it does struggle to be average. The actual storyline is good and the casting is pretty decent as well but it never really gets going and so the danger of the mountain climb coupled with these 6 climbers dealing with personal reasons to risk their lives never comes to fruition.