During his career Spencer Tracy essayed a few roles as a foreigner and did quite well in them for a man who was so typically American. Of course the most prominent was Manuel Fidello in Captains Courageous, but he also played a gypsy in Tortilla Flat, a Cuban fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea, a German in The Seventh Cross. He certainly did a lot better than Henry Fonda who was also typically American, but laughable in War and Peace.
In The Mountain he plays a Swiss mountaineer, a simple peasant guy with great dignity and iron moral sense. He's got a younger brother played by Robert Wagner and there's a generation gap between them.
Wagner's performance reminded me very much of what Marlon Brando said in The Young Lions about how he resented working for tips from foreigners in his own country. Wagner wants to get up and out of their Alpine village and doesn't care how. Brando and Wagner are both ambitious, Brando's way was to become a Nazi, Wagner had a less political approach to satisfy his ambition, one a lot more crude though.
A plane crashes on a forbidden Alp near their house, a mountain that Spencer Tracy had climbed solo before. An expedition to reach survivors fails with the death of a friend of Tracy. Wagner wants to go up on the mountain to loot the passengers. Tracy wants to see if there are survivors and they make the climb.
A survivor does turn up actually, a Hindu woman played by Anna Kashfi, this was in fact an Air India plane that crashed. Her survival touches off a test of wills and purpose for the brothers.
I hadn't seen The Mountain for many years and I had forgotten how riveting Spencer Tracy's performance was. In the dialog and in the closeups the anguish in him tears at the audience.
The only criticism I have of The Mountain was that Tracy and Wagner were playing brothers. Tracy was the least vain of all the great Hollywood stars from the studio era, he was known for never wearing makeup. He looks every bit the 56 years on the screen and Wagner looks his age and he was in his twenties then. They're not too believable as brothers, but both are skilled enough players to overcome it. But they should have been made father and son like in Broken Lance.
Outside of that The Mountain is one great film.
Adventure / Drama
Adventure / Drama
When a plane crashes on a mountaintop Chris wants to plunder the wreckage. His older brother Zachary has given up mountain guide work but goes along rather than letting his brother risk it alone. The only survivor is a Hindu girl who Chris wants to kill. Zachary fights him off. While Chris steals from the dead passengers, Zachary prepares a sled to take the girl down the mountain.
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November 01, 2015 at 08:04 AM