Clint impressions in the Yukon
Canadian Westerns aren’t always the very best examples of the genre (for example, the Canadian video version of The Virginian is certainly best skipped) but this one isn’t bad, as TV Westerns go.
For one thing, it’s very well photographed. It was shot in the Canadian Yukon by Rene (René, perhaps) Smith and is visually very attractive. The atmosphere throughout is of cold and dark.
The acting, however, is acceptable, no more, the writing pretty obvious and the direction a bit plodding.
The film has many titles. It is called Lawman on Netflix, where I watched it, but was The Mountie when it first appeared on TV in Canada and in the UK it was called The Ranger. I don’t know why. At least it bears no relation (fortunately) to the 1971 Western Lawman which, despite a magnificent Robert Ryan, was junk.
The movie is almost ruined by some doggerel by Robert William Service (wrongly known as the Canadian Kipling) which is far too long and very badly recited as a voiceover by a child. Most unfortunately, this blasted ‘poem’ keeps coming back to haunt us throughout the film. You have to turn the sound down at those points.
Still, there are one or two interesting aspects. The bad guys are Cossacks, which must be a first for a Western, I guess. There’s an evil Latvian priest (Earl Pastko) who is quite good too. He has a stand-up gunfight with the Mountie hero near the end. Quick-on-the-draw clergymen are quite amusing. The reverend and the Cossacks are into opium growing, which the Mountie does not care for.
Showdowns between Latvian priests and Mounties must be pretty rare in Westerns
This red-coated hero, played by Andrew W Walker doing a Clint impression, is kind to both a child and a horse, so we can tell he is a goody.
Walker playing Eastwood
The picture was directed, produced and co-written by one S Wyeth Clarkson, a Canadian film person whose only Western this is.
In the thank yous at the end credit is given to “Louis L’amour” (sic) but I’m not quite sure why.
While eminently missable, this flick is also just about watchable and a good deal better than a lot of Hallmark-bland TV Westerns we are presented with. You could try it. You wouldn’t regret it all that much.