There is no denying that Cecil B. DeMille made some epic movies and what he did with colour when many movies were still in black & white is astonishing. But sometimes DeMille tried too hard or to be more precise he tried to turn a storyline which wasn't epic into something epic, you could say he was a bit likes James Cameron in that sense. And that brings me to "North West Mounted Police" a vibrantly coloured movie from 1940 which looks stunning, the quality of the image is magnificent and the beautiful stars most notably Paulette Goddard and Madeleine Carroll are eye catching. But this movie which lasts 126 minutes is painfully drawn out with over indulgent dialogue and small subplots being given too much time. In fact the storyline to "North West Mounted Police" is typical b-movie and trying to make it more doesn't work.
Texas Ranger Dusty Rivers (Gary Cooper - Blowing Wild) is after Jacques Corbeau (George Bancroft) who is wanted back in Texas for murder. Dusty's travels lead him to Canada and into the middle of the Riel Rebellion as the French and the Natives want independence. Whilst there he falls for pretty nurse April (Madeleine Carroll - Secret Agent) who already has caught the eyes of Sgt. Jim Brett (Preston Foster) who quickly takes a dislike to the Texan. But Dusty also finds himself drawn into the trouble when April's brother gets involved with the stunning and flirtations Louvette (Paulette Goddard - Pot o' Gold), Courbeau's daughter leading to trouble when the rebels stage an attack on the Mounties with a Gatling gun.
Ignoring all the beautiful shot scenes and the impressive use of colour for a minute and "North West Mounted Police" has all the ingredients of a b-movie. Yes I did say b-movie and that is because for the most it is seriously predictable as we have Dusty not only going after a man which the Mounties also want but he also falls for a woman who already has an admirer. It is all very typical and whilst there are some nice embellishments most notably when it comes to the storyline surrounding Ronnie and Louvette it plays out in quite a predictable manner.
What that means is that we have a movie which normally would have been around 90 minutes drawn out to beyond the 2 hour mark as DeMille tries to turn it into something more than it is. We get subplots which get too much focus, we get dialogue which goes on too long and sounds unnatural and scenes which are drawn out for no other reason that to make them seem bigger than they need to be. Throw in the fact that at times "North West Mounted Police" becomes a homage to the Mounties and it gets to the point that despite a few nice embellishments it ends up a drawn out slog which could have done with being chopped down to a better size.
Having said that there is no doubt for its entire 126 minutes Cecil B. DeMille has delivered a glorious, beautiful looking movie. The quality of the image and the vibrancy of the colours is stunning and the action scenes whilst quite static are also impressive. Add to that the way the stars are captured on screen and whilst Gary Cooper may be the top billed it is the beauty of Paulette Goddard and Madeleine Carroll which grabs your attention.
That then sadly brings me to another negative because the characters are forgettable. It may be that there are too many with those involved in unimportant subplots getting too much time or just simply they were poorly written but for what ever reason you just don't remember them. So whilst alongside Copper, Goddard and Carroll there are also Preston Foster and Robert Preston there performances are forgettable.
What this all boils down to is that "North West Mounted Police" is a good looking movie but it is a case of being almost style over substance with DeMille trying to turn what would have been a better than average b-movie into something more but failing.