Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Treat Williams treat

Over on the TCM boards, somebody recommended the movie version of Hair, starring Treat Williams. His name reminded me of a little-known movie of his that, happily, is available on DVD: Where the Rivers Flow North.

Williams only has a small part, as a promoter of a carnival wrestler. The starring role goes to Rip Torn, who plays Noel Lord, a man eking out a meager existence in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont in the 1920s as a logger. However, he's about to face the loss of his land, as an electric company wants to bring electricity to the region by damming the local river, which would flood his land. Of course, they're offering money to all the people whose land will be lost, but Noel is one of the only ones who doesn't want to take the money. The power company sweetens their offer, but there's always the threat of their using eminent domain laws to force a sale. Meanwhile, Noel's love interest, the Native American woman Bangor, played by Tantoo Cardinal, is of the opinion that they should accept the power company's offer, so that they can move west and buy a new plot of forest.

It's a little movie, but ever since I've started watching classic movies, and especially the B-movies, I've come to the belief that a good story is just as important, if not more so, than anything else in a movie. Some of my favorite sci-fi movies, for example, are those that have an intriguing story and rely little on special effects. Where the Rivers Flow North fits into this in that it's a very well-told story, dealing with the very common theme of tradition versus modernity. The characters are interesting, and the movie has a beautiful look to it thanks in part to the cinematographer and in part to the location shooting in the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River (ie. northern New Hampshire and Vermont).

The cast also includes Michael J. Fox (second from right in the above photo) in a small but effective role as an executive of the power company.

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