Top of the World (1955)

TopOfTheWorldSuggested by Brad Nelson • An Air Force major is busy at work at his new base assignment in Alaska, but his focus is soon broken when he learns his ex-wife is in Alaska as well.
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One Response to Top of the World (1955)

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This movie is currently streaming on Netflix and I couldn’t offhand find it for sale at Amazon.com. But if you like old b-movies (especially military ones set in the Cold War), you’ll like this.

    It stars Clark Gable as Major (soon Colonel) Lee Gannon. Check that. I get confused. This is set in 1955 and I gotta believe this actor (Dale Robertson) is copping the Gable look-and-feel. Not the look necessarily, but the voice and voicing patterns.

    Anyway, I kept thinking of Annie as I streamed this. It’s set in Alaska (really…not just stock footage, although there is plenty of that as they show the same ice flows over and over). It even deals briefly with a bit of local Alaskan word usage. But this is hardly “A Passage to India North.” This is strictly b-grade all the way (although “A Passage to India” bored me to tears…this movie did not).

    Major Gannon can’t quite cut it anymore as a fighter pilot. So he’s being kicked upstairs (and up north). And, of course, by coincidence (gotta love the slightly staged and campy story lines) he finds his ex wife, Virgie Rayne (Evelyn Keyes), who owns a nightclub in Alaska and has reverted to her maiden name. They have an ugly past. She’s currently involved with another major at the base, Major Cantrell (Frank Lovejoy who, along with Patty Duke’s father, is one of the few actors I recognized in this). Major Cantrell is for now supervising Major Gannon and showing him the ropes….including the girl, Lt. Mary Ross (Nancy Gates), who is holding a long-term torch for Major Cantrell.

    So it almost becomes a love triangle. I think. Major Gannon is hitting on Lt. Ross. Lt. Ross is pining for Major Cantrell. Major Cantrell is hooked up with Virgie Rayne and wants to marry her although he doesn’t know her ugly past. And Virgie Rayne herself still holds a torch for her ex-husband, Major Gannon. You got all that?

    This is a great movie if only because of the noble character played by Frank Lovejoy. Yes, this is a movie made in cooperation with the Air Force so you’d expect a positive image. Even so, his character is so unlike what you’d find today — although he’s completely believable — that you just can’t help stare in wonder.

    The special effects are awful. And some of the situations (such as being trapped on an ice island that is breaking up) are over-the-top absurd. But that all adds to the b-move kitsch. Watch this with a friend who likes old movies and who likes lampooning them a bit. This would be great for that.

    But as a movie it works just fine on its own. It’s not Shakespeare but it is fun and breezes by at only 90 minutes. Black and white. 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Bad special effects. B-grade acting. Characters who have the old good-guy charm of Dudley Do-right. A pseudo-Clark Gable. If you can’t have a little fun with a movie like this, you may be damaged goods, ruined by today’s modern movies that are three times as absurd…and with 1000 times the budget.

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