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The White Tower (1950)

The White Tower colour poster.jpg

Mountains are my favourite thing, probably. The Alps in particular. Mountain movies have always provided an immense and challenging backdrop to proving certain kinds of dramatic theses about what people are really made of and if they can/will/should offer help to their fellows, accept limitations, etc. And here we have a Freudian mystical man-mountain of a story adapted by Paul Jarrico from the novel by James Ramsey Ullman, a man who knew mountains pretty darned well. Carla (Alida Valli) is warned against attempting to scale the titular Swiss mountain in honour of her late father who died trying to reach it in her company. She gathers a team of disparate individuals to join her:  gruff mountain guide Oscar Homolka, diffident American Glenn Ford, a former pilot drifting around Europe after the conclusion of WW2, former Hitler Youth member Lloyd Bridges, alcoholic French author Claude Rains, naturalist Cedric Hardwicke. As they proceed along the foothills their differences become clear, fractures emerge, health issues cause delays and cliques evolve. The impasse is literal as well as physical. And they still have the pinnacle to tackle … Who will continue? Who will survive?  Who will give up? It’s never just a story about climbing, is it? It’s always an allegory or a parable and in this case a post-war treatise on Nazism versus liberalism and American/civilised values. One thing we know: the mountain has the final say. Directed by Ted Tetzlaff.


About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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