A state prison is threatened by approaching floods, an epidemic of typhoid fever breaks out among the inmates, the prison's only doctor falls sick, there are only three nurses to administer... See full summary »
The story was bought by Universal in the 20s as a project for Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein, but was shelved when the studio and the director could not agree on the social aspects of the script. In the mid-80s another version was planned as a joint Canadian-French co-production by Moshe Mizrahi's Rosa Productions by New York-based Isram Film Corporation to be shot in the U.S. and Canada, but for reasons that are unclear it was not made. See more »
Before seeing this film and writing about it I did some research and saw that UFA cinema in Germany also made a film about Johan Sutter. They even did some location shooting in the USA. Imagine a Nazi western. Now that would have proved interesting.
Having seen Sutter's Gold the elephantine film that sank the Carl Laemmle regime at Universal Pictures I can now see the problem. Not that the film was anything like the real story of the California Gold Rush and how it destroyed Sutter's Empire, but the story is told in such a pedestrian and ponderous fashion you never really get involved in the character.
Sutter himself was not that sympathetic a figure either. He may have seen himself as the great patriarchal landowner, others saw him as a tyrant and something of a charlatan. I'm not sure Edward Arnold when playing Sutter knew what to make of him either. He did in fact die impoverished trying to get what he considered proper recompense for the land he cultivated.
Maybe someone will tell the story truer and better.
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