Sunday 6 August 2023

Movie Review: The White Tower (1950)

Genre: Mountaineering Adventure
Director: Ted Tetzlaff
Starring: Glenn Ford, Alida Valli, Claude Rains, Oskar Homolka, Cedric Hardwicke, Lloyd Bridges
Running Time: 98 minutes

Synopsis: Carla Alten (Valli) arrives at a Swiss Alps village inn nestled at the base of the imposing White Tower mountain. She wants to conquer the summit in memory of her father, and recruits a climbing team consisting of fading author DeLambre (Claude Rains), aging geologist Radcliffe (Cedric Hardwicke), and local guide Andreas (Oskar Homolka). Hein (Lloyd Bridges) joins them despite displaying Aryan superiority tendencies, while American Martin Ordway (Glenn Ford), a laidback retired Air Force pilot, is more interested in pursuing a romance with Carla.

What Works Well: The Paul Jarrico script (based on a book by James Ramsey Ullman) works hard to create well-rounded characters, with an overarching objective of uncovering the individual reasons for each party member to embark on the climb. The ascent scenes capture the hazards and exhilaration of navigating imposing vertical terrain.

What Does Not Work As Well: The romance elements between Carla and Martin are never not clunky, and both Hein's proud Nazi tendencies and DeLambre's tortured author agonies are overplayed. Despite the relatively short length, tedium creeps in.

Conclusion: Admirably seeks to answer the timeless why-climb-the-mountain question, with mixed success.

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