Thursday, October 13, 2011
THE WHITE TOWER
In Switzerland a beautiful young woman named Carla (Alida Valli, billed just as Valli) wants to climb the mountain upon which her father died while struggling to reach the top. Others interested in accompanying her include old friend Nicholas (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), the guide Andreas (Oscar Homolka), a writer named Paul (Claude Rains), and a "superior" Nazi-type named Hein (Lloyd Bridges). All of these people are driven for one reason or another, but the main character is Martin Ordway (Glenn Ford), who only goes along because he's fallen for Carla [not an unrealistic motivation, of course, but weak as compared to the others]. Mountain climbing movies can certainly be suspenseful and exciting, and The White Tower does have a couple of white knuckle moments, but the picture seems more interested in "saying things" in a heavy-handed manner than in providing consistent dramatic tension. Also, the mountain is called "the most unclimbable in Europe" yet Ford -- with not one bit of experience -- decides to climb it anyway. Frankly, when the obnoxious but highly-fit Hein shows contempt for him it is hard not to agree. Ford and the others give good performances, however, and Rains is, as usual, excellent. Striking scenery and a good score from Roy Webb are added pluses.
Verdict: Only in Hollywood can you climb an icy mountain without even wearing gloves. **1/2.