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The Trail of '98

(silent 1928 b 87')

En: 5 Ed: 5

A young couple and others undergo hardships to try to strike it rich in the Klondike gold rush.

On July 14, 1897 news of a gold strike in Alaska comes to San Francisco. Brothers Jim (Ray Hallor) and Joe (Ray Gallagher) go from South Carolina, and Lars Petersen (Karl Dane) leaves his wife in Michigan. Mr. Bulkey (Tenen Holtz) and Mrs. Bulkey (Emily Fitzroy) plan to open a restaurant for Jack Locasto (Harry Carey), who already found a rich strike. They board a boat in San Francisco with hopeful prospectors. Larry (Ralph Forbes) hides on the boat and is going with Berna (Dolores del Rio). Jack does not let Larry take his gambling winnings and hits him.

In the snow they have to carry a ton of food fifty pounds at a time to Dawson City. Jack has provisions already and uses a sled. Berna does not want to go on, but Larry says he would rather die than quit. An avalanche buries some people in snow, and Berna's grandfather dies. Chilkoot Pass is a steep climb.

In the spring Berna and Larry slap each other's faces to kill mosquitoes and then kiss. After the ice breaks up, they use boats; but some die in the White Horse Rapids. They reach Dawson City, and the unemployed tell them to go back. Berna works in Jack's restaurant. He says he brought in more gold. Jack offers to pay passage back for the Bulkeys.

Larry tells Berna that they are broke. She wants to go back, and he goes to get the money but learns of a new strike. Berna asks Larry not to leave her alone, but he joins the stampede for gold. A woman visits Berna and offers to take her home. Berna thanks her in the new place, and the woman goes out. Jack comes in, and Berna screams.

In a tent Larry has a fever. Salvation Jim (Tully Marshall) and Lars go to stake their claim in a long line at Dawson City. After they learn that Jack jumped their claim, Lars breaks up the office. Larry and his partner are caught in a Klondike blizzard. They have food for only two days and eight matches. The partner leaves and accidentally leaves the matches behind.

Larry makes it back and finds Berna in Jack's saloon. Larry tells her they are rich; but she scatters gold and says it does not matter now. In private Larry pleads with her. Jack comes in, and Larry says he does not care what happened. Berna says it is too late and leaves the room. Larry and Jack bloody each other in a fight. Then Jack shoots Larry, who causes Jack's clothes to catch on fire. As the fire spreads, Berna saves Larry. Outside the burning buildings he asks her to begin again.

In the final scene they are successful and are dining with Lars and Salvation Jim, who wants to go prospecting again for fun.

This drama portrays the gold fever that drives men to take desperate risks. Ironically three stunt men were killed in filming the scenes in the rapids. Jack abuses the wealth he gained by becoming a tyrant to gain more.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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