The Spoilers (1942)

 

 

Director:    Ray Enright.

Starring:     Marlene Dietrich (Cherry Malotte), Randolph Scott (Alex McNamara), John Wayne (Roy Glennister), Margaret Lindsay (Helen Chester), Harry Carey (Al Dextry), Richard Barthelmess (Bronco Kid Farrow), George Cleveland (Banty), Samuel S. Hinds (Judge Horace Stillman), Russell Simpson (Flapjack Sims), William Farnum (Wheaton), Marietta Canty (Idabelle), Jack Norton (Mr. Skinner), Ray Bennett (Clark), Forrest Taylor (Bennett), Art Miles (Deputy), Charles Halton (Stuve).

love amidst the Nome, Alaska  gold rush (1899-1909)

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

During the Alaskan gold rush, claim-jumping and mine stealing became an everyday occurrence  -  lawlessness was rampant.  This is a story of the frozen North when it not only wasn't frozen  --  but came gloriously close to being  hot spot.  Nome, 1900."

The streets of town are very muddy.  The train goes through town near the Northern Saloon.  At the City f Nome Restaurant, they are selling ham and eggs for $5.00 dollars.  At the Klondike Lodgings, they charge $15.00 a day.

Flapjack Sims and his friend come into the saloon for a drink.  The poor man just got claim-jumped.  The bartenders asks Flapjack what's he going to do about it?  Flapjack says he's going to get a gun.  He adds that they can all come out with him and see some real action.  Cherry Malotte, the owner of the place, comes down the steps, saying that if they want action then they can get plenty at the gambling tables.  Flapjack tells her that's not the kind of action they're talking about.  He just got claim-jumped and he's gonna do something about it.  Cherry advises Flapjack not to do anything foolish.  She doesn't want to find him hanging from some limb one day. 

One of the gambling operators, Bronco, says to the boss that it seems to swipe somebody's claim, all you have to do is file an affidavit.  So far, they're only jumping the small claims, but it won't take much to apply the methods to the big claims.  Cherry suggests that maybe someone should call in the Gold Commissioner:  Alexander McNamara.  But first, Cherry wants to do a little checking up on her own. 

Cherry walks over to the registration office and asks about the registration for the Flapjack Sims claim.  The clerk says it's been registered under the names of Mr. Clark and Mr. Bennett.  The Clerk shows her the affidavit.  Cherry says she's going to borrow it and starts to pull up her dress to put it in her high net stockings.  The Gold Commissioner, however, grabs the affidavit from Cherry and introduces himself as Gold Commissioner McNamara.  He tells the clerk to go get the sheriff.  Cherry asks if he intends to place her in jail?  McNamara says stealing affidavits is a serious business.  Cherry asks him if it's as serious as claim jumping?  That takes McNamara back at bit. 

The sheriff comes in and McNamara tells him to go get Clark and Bennet for him.  The sheriff heads out to get them.  McNamara continues his flirting with the pretty Cherry.  And he lets her keep the affidavit.  He expresses his desire to go out with her and she indicates she's up to it.  Now she leaves. 

The cry goes up that the boat's back.  Everybody starts finishing their drinks at the saloon and head down to the docks.  Cherry is also thrilled about the news, because her boyfriend, Roy Glennister, is on that boat. 

Cherry decides to make Roy come to her this time.  She goes upstairs and puts on a different dress, talking with her black made Idabelle, originally from Virginia.  Then Cherry sets up the room just the way she wants it for Roy.  As she fools around with the settings, she gets impatient to see Roy.  So she changes back to the clothes she had on originally.  And out the saloon she goes.  At the door there is Bronco with her rig waiting for her.  He says he knew she couldn't hold out.  Bronco doesn't like Roy and he tells Cherry that she knows why. 

Glennister comes in on a small boat and there's a pretty woman with him.  That hurts Cherry.  She goes down to greet Roy.  Then Roy introduces her to Helen Chester and she's from Seattle.  Helen says she's with her uncle, Judge Stillman, who's going to be the circuit court judge.  Roy says he's going to take Helen down to get a room at Widow Smith's place.  Cherry says she will wait to greet Roy's partner, Al Dextry

When Al comes up all happy to see Cherry, she is not happy with him.  She scolds him saying that he promised her to look out for her interests.  She adds that they have things to talk, so he must go with her now. 

Helen and Roy walk down main street.  Flapjack starts shooting off his pistol and yelling for Bart to come out of the saloon.  Roy pushes Helen out of the way of fire.  Bart starts coming out.  Flapjack is waiting for him, but someone is going to shoot Flapjack from behind.  Roy turns the gunman around and knocks him out cold with one punch.  This causes Flapjack to loose his concentration, and Bart takes advantage of the situation to shoot down poor Flapjack.  Then Flapjack's friend shoots Bart down.  Then the friend, Banty, and Roy run over to check on Flapjack.  Roy tells Flapjack that he only received a scratch.  Flapjack seems miffed at not being dead and without his present problems. 

And now Helen and Roy meet the Gold Commissioner.  Helen gets her room.  Roy kisses her.  They are interrupted by Widow Smith. 

Al and Roy share a big tent.  Al tells him that between Cherry and Helen, Cherry will win out in the long run.  Al adds that he feels sort of like a father to Roy and Cherry and he doesn't want to see anything split them up.  Roy says:  "And nothing's going to, partner."  Al goes on to say that Cherry was pretty made about this Helen thing.  Roy says she will get over it ten minutes after he's with Cherry. 

Roy comes into the Northern Saloon.  Cherry takes the place of Bronco in a game of cards.  Roy tries to get in on the game, but she tells him to wait for the next card game.  True to what Al told him, Cherry is pretty mad at Roy.  He tries to get her to go upstairs with him, but she won't go.  And in comes McNamara.  Roy takes notice when Cherry starts to flirt a bit with McNamara.  The guys who were playing cards don't like McNamara.  One of them says that things only started going wrong around Nome when McNamara showed up.  Things get nasty and McNamara knocks out two of the guys and Roy knocks out the third guy.

A guy from the Gold Commissioner comes to serve papers on Roy and Al.  The man along with the official has brought legal action against the claim belong to Roy and Al.  Al chases the two men away by shooting off his rifle at them.

And now Helen comes riding up on a horse.  She asks the guys about all the shooting.  Roy just laughs and says it's Al's way of telling them that they can't serve papers out here.  Helen says that her uncle probably signed those papers and so it doesn't seem like a laughing matter, does it?  Roy tells her the rampant fraud around here.  He says no one can rightfully take out legal papers on their claim, because of were only about four other out here when they filed their claims. 

Now Roy invites Helen up to his cabin, saying that there's a view from up there.

Roy comes to see Cherry, but she is still mad at him.  Idabelle made Roy's favorite dish  -- twelve hard-boiled eggs with brandy.  Cherry decides to not let Roy have his favorite food, but Roy commandeers the bowl of eggs.  Cherry tell Roy that she wants to talk to him only about Dexter's concern that McNamara and the new judge are a crooked combine hiding behind a law-an-order front.  Roy sort dismisses Al's concerns.  Besides, Roy only wants to talk to Cherry about "us".    Cherry keeps bring up Helen's name.  She then says she just doesn't want Roy and Al to lose their mine.

Roy gets tired of this stand-off with Cherry, and he tells her that nothing's going on between him and Cherry.  He grabs and kisses Cherry.  When he lets go of her, she slaps him hard across the face.  Roy says that's what you call putting in right on the line and that's clear enough for him.  He leaves her room. 

Now that Roy's left, Bronco tries to move in on Cherry, but she is just not interested.  After Bronco leaves, a tear comes down Cherry's right cheek. 

Down at he Midas Mining Company, the miners see the law coming for them, led by McNamara.  Dexter tells the men to get their guns and get ready for action.

Judge Stillman talks to Roy and Al, saying all the right things to them.  He is suggesting that this is just a formality, because the miners' claim to the land is so clear.  Once the court rules in favor of Al and Roy, then their claim of ownership can never be challenged again.  They will meet in court this coming Monday and get this thing taken care of right away. 

Roy wants to cooperate with the judge, but Al is strongly opposed to the idea.  Al is really mad at him.  He says he is quitting the partnership.  Roy tells him to wait a minute, but Al tells Roy what for  --  to walking back to town with a "weak sister".  Al walks away.  The judge tells Roy he did the right thing.  Roy tells the judge that he better not make any mistakes on Monday. 

Dexter talks to Cherry.  She scolds him saying that it's not right to just walk out on a partner like that.  Dexter says why not?  That's exactly what Cherry did with Roy.  She says no, he says yes.  He adds that she's crazy about Roy and is just being stubborn about the whole thing. Cherry fights back by saying that she doesn't love Roy.  Al says:  "You're a liar!"  He repeats himself and Cherry says okay, she's a liar.  They are interrupted by Bronco who says they just brought in Roy and Al's safe form the mining company and put it in the bank.  Al is extremely angry and he says he's going to do something about this right now.  Cherry grabs him and tells him he's not going to do anything foolish.  They will both go down and see what the hell is going on here. 

Cherry and Al go into the lawyer's office.  But Cherry sees Roy there and she wants to walk out immediately.  Wheaton tells her that the three of them should make up and work on Roy's plan together.  Cherry won't do it and she and Al walk out.

Circuit Court of the District of Alaska.  Judge Stillman, presiding.  In the first case, the judge finds in favor of Flapjack and his claim.  Roy's case is the next case.  The judge says that since someone told him he better not make any mistakes in the case, he is postponing the case for 90 days.  The miners are not at all happy with the delay.  They cause so much noise that a whole bunch of men with guns gather around the judge to provide him with some security.  Roy says the judge told him he would try the case today and he expects him to keep his word.  The judge he agreed to hear the case, not decide the case on Monday.  Roy protests that men could mine out a quarter of a million dollars from the mine in that time.  Al comes up and tells the judge may have fooled the young and naive Roy, but he didn't fool anyone else.  The judge says if there are any more threats of violence, he will call for troops at St. Michael.  Al now says "I told you so" to Roy. 

Roy tries to get a loan from the bank, but the judge has already frozen Roy's accounts.  And the judge, the commissioner and his main aide are laughing it up in the back room.  And they talk about getting that quarter of a million dollars out of Roy and Al's mine.  Helen doesn't look to happy and McNamara.  He tries to reassure her that they have blocked all the routes to Seattle for Roy.  They have an agreement with the ship's captain not to let Wheaton aboard his ship.  Her father and McNamara becomes concerned that Helen might have fallen in love with Roy.  Speak of the devil.  Roy walks in on the conspirator's pow-wow.

Roy asks the judge to release his funds at the bank.  Of course, the judge puts up another road block for Roy.  As Roy starts to leave, he tells Helen that she's not looking so well.  Maybe Nome just doesn't agree with her.  He leaves.

McNamara tells his main man to figure it out and go arrest Wheaton to make sure he doesn't get on that ship.  It's very obvious that Helen and her father were hired by McNamara. 

Roy goes into the Northern Saloon to speak with the boat captain.  He tells him that a friend of his is going to be on the boat.  The captain said the court forbade him to let Wheaton get on his boat.  Roy says he heard as much.  So Wheaton will be five miles out and he wants the captain to pick him up.  The captain agrees to do just that. 

Now Roy busts in on the meeting between Cherry, Al and Wheaton.  He tells Wheaton he has to go stay over at Flapjack's mine.  Roy now tells Al that he was right all along and now it's time they did things Al's way.  He and Al leave. 

Roy and Al and some men with them blacken their faces and hands.  They go to the bank at night .  Two men are in the bank guarding Roy and Al's safe.  Bronco is hiding in the shadows and he checks that his pistol is ready to be fired. 

Al lights a stick of dynamite and throws it in front of the bank door.  The door is blown to bits and the men rush in, grab the safe and carry it to a waiting horse and wagon.  Bronco ends up shooting the marshal running to the scene to stop the robbery.   

Unfortunately for Bronco, Cherry told her maid to go get Bronco for her and now she has to return to say that Bronco is nowhere to be found. 

Roy shows up and talks with the maid upstairs.  He wants to clean up the black face before he sees Cherry. 

When Bronco does show up he says he doesn't know anything more than Cherry does.  All he knows is that the bank was robbed and the marshal was killed.  He starts to return to the gambling tables, when he sees McNamara coming in with four other men.  He tells Cherry to dummy up because here comes McNamara.  She tells Bronco to find Roy and tell him to keep away for awhile. 

McNamara asks Bronco if he was the guy who was seen hanging around the bank just before the robbery.  Bronco says he was in the saloon the whole time.  Cherry comes out and McNamara says he'll have to examine her rooms upstairs for Roy.  She acts like she doesn't care about Roy at all.  She leads the way up to her rooms.  Cherry leads him on and he starts to kiss her.  Roy shows up and stops that.  McNamara says that Roy is under arrest, but Cherry says Roy was with her the whole evening.  So now McNamara is stymied.  He can't arrest Roy.  But now the maid comes in complaining to Roy that she can't get this black stuff off his shirt no matter what she tries.  So now McNamara arrests Roy. 

The judge is irate when McNamara's main man tells him that Wheaton got away and is probably on the boat.  He calls the fellow a confounded, blundering idiot.  McNamara comes in saying that Roy is lock up in the jail and the miners are sure angry that they locked up their boyfriend behind bars.  The judge may have to send for those troops after all.  The judge tells McNamara that he can't call for any troops.  And he suggests they get out of town because Wheaton is on the boat to Seattle.

Helen is still upset and she says that they are all just a bunch of cheap lot of spoilers of the Nome community.  The judge tells his daughter to stop talking that way.  Now he turns to McNamara and wants to know what if the miners revolt against them?  McNamara hints at killing Roy as a solution to their problems. 

Helen starts packing her belongings.  Cherry comes in unannounced.  She tells Helen that the miners told her that Helen is running away and she wants to know why Helen is choosing this time to leave town.  It now becomes clear to Cherry that Helen is in love with Roy and doesn't want to see anything that might happen to him.  Now Cherry works on Helen until she tells Cherry that there isn't going to be any trial for Roy.  Helen says at dinner time tonight, they are going to let Roy escape from jail.  Cherry adds that then their men will shoot Roy down.  Cherry tells Helen to keep her mouth shut, she will tell the ship's captain to take her to Seattle.  If she doesn't, she'll still leave Nome, but not until Cherry is through moping the floor with her. 

Cherry asks Bronco for help to avoid the murder of Roy. Bronco says so what if they shoot Roy in the back. Bronco loves Cherry and, obviously, he couldn't care less about what happens to Roy. He tells Cherry that it's either her or no one. Cherry says well that's the way she feels about Roy. It's him or nobody.

The sheriff tells Roy that he made a deal with Al to let Roy hit him and then run out the back way to escape. Roy doesn't really say anything to that. The sheriff goes outside and motions to the men that soon Roy will be coming out the back door.

Cherry and Bronco escort a drunk named Skinner to jail. Skinner drunkenly walks himself to the jail cell and sits down on the cot. He pulls out a revolver. The sheriff comes in with Roy's dinner and Roy knocks him out.

Skinner shoots the light out in the sheriff's office and Skinner knocks out the deputy. Roy starts to go out the back door, but Cherry yells to him and Skinner tells him not to go that way because it's a trick. Roy goes out the front way, gets on a horse and rides out.

Cherry goes over and tells McNamara that Roy tried to escape and they shot him. She asks to be escorted back to her place. McNamara takes her there. She is going to keep McNamara occupied go give Roy some more time.

The law has put up a gate and fence so no one unauthorized can get to the mine. So Roy and the men get on the train and crash the train right through the gate. The locomotive and coal car fall off the track.

And now a regular fire fight starts. McNamara's main man Stuve runs away as the firing heats up. Soon after that all the men defending the mine take off. Roy goes to check on Bronco who has been badly hurt. Bronco dies.

Stuve returns to the judge's rooms and finds the judge and Helen finishing up on the packing. They are going to get out of Nome as fast as they can. McNamara's man says he's going with them.

As Helen and the judge reach the door of their hotel Roy and Al plus some miners start coming into the hotel. Roy says the judge is not going anywhere. Stuve pulls out his pistol and Al shoots him dead with his rifle.

The miners take the judge over to the jail. Roy asks Helen where's McNamara? He's over at the Northern Saloon with Cherry. Roy takes off. Helen says softly: "Goodbye, Roy."

McNamara is about to force himself on Cherry, when Roy arrives and the two men starts a fist fight. Iit's rip-roaring fight that spills down onto the saloon's ground floor. It's a really long fight that spills out of the saloon and into the muddy streets. Roy finally comes out the winner.

The miners bring Roy back into the saloon. Cherry rushes over to hold Roy, who is sprawled on the floor. Roy apologizes for messing up her place, but she did say that the only kind of brawling she would permit is brawling over her.  Remember?  Cherry says:  "Yes, but I also said:  'Anything you can win, you can collect.'"

 

Patrick Louis Cooney


 

Historical Background:

1899-1909  --  Nome Gold Rush in Alaska.   The Nome goldfield is located in northwest Alaska at the outlet of Snake River on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on the Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. 

Nome was a sea port without a harbor, and the biggest town in Alaska.

Nome was different from other gold sites.   Much of the gold was laying on and in the beach sand and could be recovered without any need for a claim.  The beaches could only be worked from June to October.

Nome shared prospectors with both Klondike and later rushes like Fairbanks.

18th century  -- they established the port of St. Michael, 125 miles to the southeast, for sailing on Yukon.

Beginning in the 1880s  --  a few church missions were established.

1897  --  gold was found in smaller amounts at Council.

1898 (September)  --  the "Three Lucky Swedes": Norwegian-American Jafet Lindeberg, and two American citizens of Swedish birth, Erik Lindblom and John Brynteson, discovered gold on Anvil Creek and founded Nome mining district.

By 1899  --  Nome had a population of 10,000 many of whom had arrived from the Klondike gold rush area.

1900 (spring)  --  Thousands more people poured into Nome aboard steamships from the ports of Seattle, Washington and San Francisco, California.

By 1900  --  a tent city on the beaches and the treeless coast reached 30 miles, from Cape Rodney to Cape Nome.

A politician,  Alexander McKenzie, a Republican from North Dakota, took interest in the gold rush and seized mining claims with the help of a crooked judge, A. Noyes.

1900  --  because of the unrest Fort Davis was established at the mouth of Nome River, 4 miles east of Nome City.

 Between 19001909 --  Nome's population reached as high as 20,000.

1904  --  the first wireless telegraph in the United States to transmit over a distance of more than 100 miles began operating in Nome.

By 1905  --  Nome had schools, churches, newspapers, a hospital, saloons, stores, a post office, an electric light plant and other businesses.

By 1909 -- because the gold was running out, the population at Nome dropped to 2,600.

Former sheriff Wyatt Earp is estimated to have returned from Nome with $80,000.

 

 

 

Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)