Nomads of the North

Nomads of the North is a 1920 American drama film featuring Lon Chaney, Betty Blythe, and Lewis Stone. A Canadian Mountie allows an innocent fugitive to escape with the woman he loves. The film is based on the 1919 novel of the same name by American author James Oliver Curwood.

Nomads of the North
Lobby card with Chaney, Blythe, and Stone
Directed byDavid Hartford
Produced byJames Oliver Curwood
Hal Roach
Written byDavid Hartford
Based onNomads of the North
by James Oliver Curwood
StarringBetty Blythe
Lon Chaney
Lewis Stone
Melbourne MacDowell
CinematographyWalter L. Griffin
James Oliver Curwood Productions Inc.
Distributed byAssociated First National Pictures, Inc.
Release date
  • October 11, 1920 (1920-10-11)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)


When impoverished Nanette Roland refuses to marry Buck McDougall until she is convinced that her long-absent fiancé, Raoul Challoner, is dead, Buck obtains false evidence of Challoner's death and Nanette yields to his wishes. At their wedding ceremony, Raoul appears and is about to take Nanette away, when Buck attacks him and, in the ensuing battle, Raoul accidentally kills a man and is arrested. That night, Nanette helps him escape and, after a hasty wedding, they flee into the wilderness. Corporal O'Connor of the North-West Mounted Police is given the assignment of capturing him, and three years later, the Mountie, aided by Buck, discovers Raoul's cabin in the woods. Just as he arrests the fugitive, a forest fire breaks out, trapping Nanette, Raoul and their baby in the flames. O'Connor, injured by a fallen tree, is rescued by Raoul and the four reach safety, but Buck perishes in the fire. O'Connor, feeling a debt of gratitude, agrees to testify to Raoul's death and the family realizes that their troubles are at an end.



Betty Blythe and Lon Chaney were burned while filming the forest fire scene when a blaze that popped up unexpectedly blocked their escape. They were rescued through a tunnel that had been previously built for just such an occurrence, but filming was stopped for ten days while the actors recovered in a local hospital.

The crew erected a phony forest on the Universal Studios lot, with fake trees, trimmed with natural foliage, planted in the ground, barked, and painted. The forest fire was filmed with 6 cameras.

Although the film was not viewed, onscreen credit information was obtained from a print of the film at the National Archives of Canada. Actor Charles A. Smiley's surname is incorrectly spelled "Smily" in the film's credits. The 1961 Disney production Nikki, Wild Dog of the North (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961–70; F6.3499) is also based on James Oliver Curwood's novel, but the plots of the two films are not similar. A modern source states that the 1953 Allied Artists film Northern Patrol is also based on Curwood's novel, but, again, its plot does not resemble those of the other two films.


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