The Wild North

The Wild North (also known as The Big North, Constable Pedley, The Constable Pedley Story, The Wild North Country and North Country) is a 1952 American western film directed by Andrew Marton and starring Stewart Granger, Wendell Corey and Cyd Charisse.[2][3] It was the first Ansco Color film shot.[4]

The Wild North
Theatrical film poster
Directed byAndrew Marton
Produced byStephen Ames
Written byFrank Fenton
Music byBronislau Kaper
CinematographyRobert L. Surtees
Edited by
Distributed byLoew's Inc.
Release date
  • March 28, 1952 (1952-03-28)
Running time
97 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,007,000[1]


Jules Vincent, a French-Canadian trapper (Stewart Granger), while in a northern Canadian town, helps an attractive Indian singer (Cyd Charisse), fend off unwanted attentions of a drunken Max Brody (Howard Petrie). The next day, Vincent sets off by canoe into the Canadian wilderness, taking the Indian girl up north to her tribe, now accompanied by a contrite Brody.

When the group arrives at her Chippewa village, Vincent tells the chief (John War Eagle), after Brody had acted recklessly on the rapids that he wanted to send him a warning, shooting into the air but accidentally killing Brody when the canoe pitched wildly. Frightened by the prospect of arrest, Vincent heads into the wilderness. After North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) Constable Pedley (Wendell Corey) arrives at the village on another matter, he learns about Brody's death.

Pedley finds Vincent's cabin where the Indian girl tells him that Vincent is not a murderer. The NWMP Constable, however, is determined to bring Vincent in, saying running away makes the trapper look guilty.

While on his trapline, Vincent finds a half-frozen Father Simon (Morgan Farley) who had gone into the wilderness, to try to persuade the trapper to turn himself in. As Father Simon pleads with Vincent and utters his dying words, Pedley arrives to arrest Vincent. Despite Vincent's warnings that the weather will turn worse, Pedley takes Vincent into custody and starts a long trek back to the NWMP station.

The treacherous trip back puts both men in peril as two other trappers, Ruger (Ray Teal) and Sloan (Clancy Cooper) menace them. Facing harrowing conditions and the attack of wolves, the unlikely bond that forms between the trapper and the constable allows both to survive.



The Wild North was known at one stage by the working titles, "Constable Pedley", "The Wild North Country" and "North Country".[5] The film was based on the true story of Mountie Constable Arthur Pedley, who in 1904 was assigned to find a lost missionary in northern Alberta. He managed to succeed despite great difficulty.[6]

Location filming started in Idaho in March 1951 with Granger and Corey. Filming was then halted to enable Granger to make The Light Touch (1951). Filming was scheduled to resume in July in Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada, where the actual events in Pedley's story had taken place.[7] Due to inclement weather in Canada, filming was completed in the United States.[4][8]

The Wild North was shot in a new colour process.[6] John Arnold, MGM's executive director of photography, and John Nicholaus, head of the studio's film laboratory, worked with Ansco for 10 years to develop the new process. It had several advantages, being able to be used in standard black and white cameras and "... processed in the studio laboratory with essentially the same facility as black and white film ... [making] possible many time-saving steps in the handling, development and screening of daily rushes. An additional advantage noted in American Cinematographer was that the film was particularly good for 'day-for-night' shooting, which was used significantly in 'The Wild North'."[4]


The Wild North was critically reviewed by Bosley Crowther for The New York Times. He said, "... the picture is not of a consistent piece, either in its narration nor in its photography. There are high points and dismally low points in its generally pulp-fiction tale of how an amiable French Canadian woodsman brings in a Mountie who was sent to bring him in. The high points are reached in a sequence showing a battle of the two men with wolves and in another recording their transit of a boiling rapids in a bobbing canoe. The low points are touched when they are struggling through the obvious studio snow."[9]

The Wild North earned an estimated $2 million at the North American box office in 1952.[10] MGM records puts this figure at $2,111,000 with earnings of $1,896,000 elsewhere, leading to a profit of $806,000.[1] In France, the film recorded admissions of 1,746,799.[11]



  1. "The Eddie Mannix Ledger." Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles.
  2. "Review: 'The Wild North' (1951)." BFI. Retrieved: July 31, 2016.
  3. Granger 1991, p. 182.
  4. "Notes: 'The Wild North'." Turner Classic Movies. RetrievedL July 31, 2016.
  5. "Drama: Granger switches to 'Constable Pedley'." Los Angeles Times, February 23, 1951, p. B8.
  6. "Mushing it in the Royal Canadian Mounties: Hollywood location unit battles Idaho blizzard making The North Country'; Factual "mushing" through below zero." The New York Times, April 8, 1951, p. 101.
  7. Schallert, Edwin. "Drama: Corey star for 'Wings Across Pacific;' Marjorie Main aquatic mother." Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1951, p. B11.
  8. Brady, Thomas F. "Remake of comedy listed at Warners; 'Sons O'Guns,' 1929 musical by Donahue and Thompson, on Weisbart schedule." The New York Times, March 29, 1951, p. 41.
  9. Crowther, Bosley. "Movie review: The screen in review; ' Wild North,' with Stewart Granger, makes its bow." The New York Times, May 12, 1952.
  10. 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  11. "Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France."Box Office Story. Retrieved: July 31, 2016.


  • Granger, Stewart. Sparks Fly Upward. London: Granada Publishing, 1991. ISBN 978-0-2461-1403-7.
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