Valley of Eagles (1951)

Article #1735 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-14-2005
Posting Date: 5-13-2006
Directed by Terence Young
Featuring Jack McCallum, Jack Warner, Anthony Dawson

A Norwegian inventor develops a method of creating electricity through sound, but his invention is stolen by his assistant and his wife. He then joins forces with a police inspector to try and catch them.

You know, nothing makes my heart sink like a movie that opens with the demonstration of some amazing invention, and then instead of exploring the impact the invention has on the world, it consigns the invention to the role of first prize in a more conventional cinematic struggle. It then becomes merely a case of whether the good guys can keep the invention from falling in the hands of the bad guys; most serials with slight science fiction elements fall into this category. That’s pretty much the direction this movie goes at the ten minute mark, and had the movie stayed at that level, I wouldn’t have liked it as well as I did. Fortunately, the movie is much better than that; not only is it made with a great deal of subtlety, suspense and wit, it also refuses to keep still. At the thirty minute mark, it shifts once more, this time from an espionage thriller to an adventure movie when the heroes join a group of reindeer herders in an attempt to keep on the trail of the thieves, and it is here that the movie starts to develop a surprising degree of emotional resonance as the scientist’s experiences with the “savages” makes him doubt the legitimacy of his own obsession with science. As a result, the movie ends up a much richer and more satisfying experience than I thought it would be. Still, I do have some reservations; there are a number of scenes of animal deaths and attacks here, and though some of them seem to clearly be stock footage, I’m still not sure about others; in particularly, scenes of eagles attacking wolves bother me. Still, I am amazed at the sequence where we encounter a tribe of men with trained eagles which they use instead of guns for fear of avalanches. Keep a sharp lookout for Christopher Lee in the small role of a police detective.

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